Let them eat cake? Not in Sal­ford, NHS-funded study sug­gests

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JOSH JACK­MAN

BARELY ONE third of the men in the strictly Ortho­dox Sal­ford com­mu­nity take the na­tion­ally rec­om­mended level of ex­er­cise, a health study has found.

Pro­vi­sional re­sults of an NHS-funded sur­vey show that 36.5 per cent of male re­spon­dents ena­gage in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity for at least two-and-a-half hours per week. The fig­ure among the gen­eral male UK pop­u­la­tion is 67 per cent.

The find­ings raise a num­ber of ex­er­cise, nu­tri­tional and dis­ease preven­tion con­cerns for the area’s 7,500 Jews. For ex­am­ple, more than one-in-eight par­ents have not had their chil­dren im­mu­nised and were un­likely to do so.

“We have a mas­sive lack of aware­ness re­gard­ing the im­por­tance of ex­er­cise,” said Jewish Care Fo­rum chair Jonny Wineberg, who ran the sur­vey with psy­chol­o­gist Dr Sandi Mann. “It’s just not em­bed­ded in the com­mu­nity. The age groups who don’t un­der­stand it most are the youngest and old­est, which is bizarre.

“The fact we’ve got this lack of un­der­stand­ing among young peo­ple means we have to em­bed it much ear­lier and ques­tion what’s be­ing taught at schools.”

Close on 5 per cent of those sur­veyed said they would def­i­nitely not immunise their chil­dren. One-in-five par­ents felt they had in­suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion about im­mu­ni­sa­tion.

Mr Wineberg said that this at­ti­tude brought “a whole range of risks. It’s MMR we’re talk­ing about — rubella, measles and mumps — dis­eases that should be gone.

“The pos­si­bil­ity of some­one con­tract­ing one of those dis­eases and it spread­ing across the com­mu­nity is hor­ri­ble. It’s more likely, of course, if peo­ple aren’t im­mu­nised.”

He wanted to see “a very strong mar­ket­ing cam­paign about im­mu­ni­sa­tions”. The sur­vey had high­lighted “myths” about vac­cines from par­ents who were “not in­ter­ested in any sort of facts”.

One par­ent had claimed that “the cock­tail jabs are too much to deal with for a small child’s body”. An­other had ex­pressed the base­less fear that “six weeks is too early to immunise kids”.

An­other find­ing was that 54 per cent of Sal­ford Jews eat cake at least once a day. “To not un­der­stand that cake, with its fat and high sugar con­tent, is not a food to be hav­ing ev­ery day is re­ally bad,” Mr Wineberg said.

The com­mu­nity needed “to do more work around healthy eat­ing. Give your kids a sat­suma as a treat, not a Mars bar.”

Nava Kesten­baum, di­rec­tor of the north-west branch of Ortho­dox char­ity In­ter­link, said the low ex­er­cise lev­els among men did not sur­prise her.

But she pointed out that “their life- style is not con­sid­ered so un­healthy re­gard­ing the level of al­co­hol or fast food con­sump­tion. Those are very low, so there are mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors.”

Was cake con­sump­tion best prac­tice? “Maybe not, but chang­ing cul­tural norms takes time, es­pe­cially as Jewish moth­ers like to bake for their fam­ily.”

As a for­mer pub­lic health ad­viser to NHS Sal­ford, her per­sonal view was that “the con­cept of com­mu­nity im­mu­nity is very im­por­tant”. Yet there was “al­ways room for in­di­vid­u­als to have an ob­jec­tion to health plans”.

The pro­vi­sional re­sults were re­vealed at Sun­day’s Manch­ester Jewish Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil meet­ing. The full sur­vey will be re­leased shortly.

There were con­cerns about lev­els of ex­er­cise among men

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