The Chorleywood baking process has come under fire by researchers and academics who say it is contributing to childhood obesity.
Elizabeth Dowler, professor emerita at Warwick University, has researched food poverty for the government and has said that cheap bread is a contributor to obesity.
She said: “Cheap bread is unpleasant, pappy, and not particularly nutritious and, because of the way it’s metabolised, can easily contribute.”
During the 1960s scientists at the British baking Industries Research Association in Chorleywood developed a way of making bread quicker, by using high speed mixers and adding yeast, chemical oxidants, hardened fat and adding more salt for flavour.
Bread made in this way registers close to 70 on the glycaemic index (GI) scale, which shows how quickly food creates a rise in blood sugar. By comparison, wholemeal bread made through conventional methods registers around the 30 mark.
However, bread made using the Chorleywood method is significantly cheaper than that made using conventional methods and therefore can be stretched further by parents who are struggling to feed their families.
Elizabeth believes wages need to be increased in order for people to have the option of providing more adequate nutrition for their families.
She said: “Obesity is the canary in the mine. It tells us there is something seriously wrong with not just the food system but the whole economic system. When you talk to poor parents about how they manage on very low incomes, you learn that they have so little that food is a long, long way down the list. Unless you address the social contexts in which people live, you’ll never really tackle obesity.”