It's only three months ago that Jamie Oliver was pointing out to the Commons health committee that since this was "the first time in British history that we have a large number of people who cannot cook", a recession would inevitably lead to us eating even more unhealthily than we had been.
Sadly, he's being proved right. Demand for fast food is soaring: Domino's pizza chain had "exceptional" sales in the first few weeks of 2009 and, having opened a new outlet every week in the UK last year, it plans to do it all over again in 2009. Working people, the company says, are "increasingly reliant on prepared food". A third of those it delivered to last year were new customers.
KFC, meanwhile, is spending £150m opening 300 new fried chicken joints in the next five years. Chief executive Martin Shuker reckons downmarket dining is booming in general, and at his chain in particular because at KFC "you can buy a bargain bucket that will feed a family of four for a tenner". The takeaway sandwich chain Subway is also coining it, and McDonald's itself last week reported that its (and I quote) "high-quality, affordable meal options" helped generate the company's strongest ever year in Britain, contributing to a 7% rise in worldwide profits.
Certainly in past recessions our health was not our prime preoccupation. According to the Wall Street Journal, virtually the only US companies to fare consistently well on Wall Street during the Great Depression were the purveyors of "cheap vices": cigarettes, cigars and tobacco, sugar and confectionery, fats and oils: their stocks apparently gained between 1.6% and 7.5% a year between 1930 and 1933. Sweets, smokes and fried food are, it seems, our solace in hard times.
And if a recessionary diet doesn't get us, declining fitness might. Consumer trends expert Jeremy Baker of London Metropolitan University is forecasting a 20% drop-off rate in gym memberships over the coming months. Most studies in most countries show morbidity and mortality rates swing sharply up in an economic downturn, especially among those who lose (or fear losing) their jobs. Put simply, recessions are bad for your health.