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Telling porkies? Humans are becoming fatter than pigs, new study shows


a close up of an animal

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A new study has shown that the average British pig is shrinking while the average Brit’s waistline is expanding.

According to a study commissioned by the Agriculture and Horticultural Development Board, changes in the way pigs are being bred and reared is leading to the production of significantly thinner animals.

Pigs now have an average of 16 per cent fat by weight compared to 20 per cent around 20 years ago.

Christine Walsh, who was part of the team that sponsored the study, said: “Pigs have changed a lot since 1990 and are pretty lean compared to what people may think.”

The changes in pigs’ levels of fat could be due to British farmers attempts to promote pork as a healthier and more diet friendly meat by offering leaner fillets and medallions of loin.

a herd of cows looking at the camera: The average pig now carries less body fat (AFP/Getty Images)

© Provided by Evening Standard
The average pig now carries less body fat (AFP/Getty Images)

The data around pigs has coincided with the latest Government Health Survey for England which shows a very different picture for the average weight of people in the UK.

The proportion of British adults who pass the threshold of being deemed obese, has risen from 15 per cent in 1993 to 28 per cent today.

Susan Jebb, Professor of diet and population health at Oxford University carried out a study which analysed the levels of fat found in nearly 400,000 middle-aged UK adults.

She told the Times: “If the average pig has 16 per cent body fat then for sure that is lower than the average person in the UK.”

The Professor’s study shows that a middle-aged man with the national average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27.5, now has a 21 per cent to 25 per cent fat by weight ratio, while for the average woman the figure is 33 per cent to 38 per cent.

Fredrik Karpe, professor of metabolic medicine at Oxofrd University shared how the common saying “as fat as a pig” may no longer be applicable.

“Certainly the pigs have gone in one direction [leaner] and the humans have gone in the other direction and now the humans have overtaken the pigs in fat levels,” he said.

“If pigs could talk they might well tell each other ‘You look as fat as a human’.”

It comes as vegetarian and vegan substitutes to meat is growing increasingly popular.

Nearly one in four of all new UK food products launched in 2019 was vegan, a Mintel analysis revealed.

Sales of meat-free foods have grown 40 per cent to an estimated £816 million in 2019, according to the same research.


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