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Wartime Rationing helped the British get healthier than they had ever been

During the Second World War (1939-1945) the British government introduced food rationing to make sure that everyone received their fair share of the limited food which was available. Food rationing started in 1940 and finally ended in 1954. To start with, only a few foods were rationed, but more foods were included as the years passed. The rations of food varies throughout the war and additional allowances were given to certain groups. Each person was given a ration book.

A 'point' scheme was introduced for unrationed foods. Each person was allocated a number of points and a selected range of foods was given a point value. The consumer could choose how to spend these points.

Many people were better fed during wartime food rationing than before the war years. Infant mortality rates declined, and the average age at which people died from natural causes increased.

Eating Patterns

The wartime food shortages forced people to adopt new eating patterns. Most people ate less meat, fat, eggs and sugar than they had eaten before. But people who had a poor diet before, were able to increase their intake of protein and vitamins because they received the same ration as everybody else.

The 'National Loaf'

The 'National Loaf' was introduced. It was made with more of the grain than was used in white bread, resulting in a brown load. White bread was no longer readily available and brown bread became the norm.

Ministry of Food

Part of the work of the Ministry of Food was to give advice to the British public about how to make the best of the food that was available. This included radio broadcasts, cookery demonstrations and recipe leaflets.

'Dr Carrot' and 'Potato Pete' were characters introduced to encourage people to eat home grown vegetables which were plentiful. Many people grew their own vegetables and kept hens to supplement their rations.

Special Diets

Special arrangements were made for young children, expectant and nursing mothers to receive cod-liver oil, orange juice and milk from welfare clinics. When oranges were available children under six years of age were entitles to receive 1lb each week. The general health of children improved and on average they were taller and heavier than children before the war.

Woolton Pie

This pie was named after Lord Woolton, the Minister of Food. The vegetables could be changed according to what was available at the time.

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