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Obesity could cost Scotland £3bn a year

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Obesity could cost Scotland’s economy £3bn a year, according to a new government report.

The stark warning for the nation’s health also suggests that up to 40 per cent of the population - double the current level - could be classed as obese in 20 years.

Currently, an estimated 3,400 people die as a direct result of obesity every year and deaths are predicted to rise.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon, speaking ahead of the report’s launch tomorrow, said: “Scotland is in the grip of an obesity epidemic.”

The report warns that if people don’t change their ways, costs will spiral as the number of obese people increases.

By 2030 the cost of obesity will jump from an estimated £457m a year to £3bn a year.

The cost of treating conditions linked to obesity, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, is currently estimated at £175m, the equivalent of 2 per cent of NHS Scotland’s revenue budget. Indirect costs, such as sickness absence, are estimated at £282m to the taxpayer.

Ms Sturgeon said the £3bn a year cost would “directly impact on our nation’s ability to achieve sustainable economic growth”.

She said that the current NHS spend on treating obesity could “make a vital difference to other areas of the health service”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Initiatives are already under way to help prevent obesity but we need to do much more.

“This is not simply a health issue, nor can we expect individuals to change behaviour entirely on their own.

“The solution lies in changing our entire environment from one that promotes weight gain to one that supports healthy choices.”

Public health minister Shona Robison will launch the government’s obesity strategy tomorrow during a visit to St Mark’s Primary School in Barrhead, Glasgow.

The document, Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland - a route map towards healthy weight, will set out the scale of the problem and changes that need to be made.

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