Health minister warns of effect of ‘subcontinental eating habits’ on Covid fight


The eating habits of some people from the subcontinent has left them in “no good state” to fight coronavirus, a health minister has warned.

Lord Bethell told the Lords that many people from rural communities on the subcontinent had brought with them “eating habits” which were not “appropriate for modern life”.

At question time, he said this had been shown up by the “challenging incidents” of Covid-19 in such communities and told peers that tackling the problem was extremely complex.

He said that with a little support from government, places of worship could be a “real help in reducing an above-average incidence of obesity and associated health risks in those from the subcontinent”.

Lord Bethell was responding to independent crossbencher Lord Singh of Wimbledon in a question about tackling obesity.

Lord Singh said the Sikh community had for some years run lectures and health checks in gurdwaras to “reduce a calorie-rich diet of those from rural communities to one more suitable for more sedentary occupations in the UK”.

Lord Bethell said this was an “incredibly important point” made “very delicately” by Lord Singh.

“It is true that many people from rural communities in the subcontinent bring with them eating habits that are simply not appropriate for modern life,” he said.

“We have seen that in Covid, where some of the most challenging incidents of Covid has been in communities where there is a high level of people from the subcontinent, whose eating habits, frankly, have left them in no good state to fight this horrible disease.

“Tackling that issue is extremely complex and I’m extremely grateful to the Sikh community for setting this good example,” Lord Bethell added.

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