Shona Robison has announced a government strategy to tackle obesity in Scotland which includes plans to force restaurants to cut portion sizes, encourage supermarkets to remove sweets from tills and ban fast food outlets near to schools.
Public health minister Shona Robison unveiled the Scottish government’s strategy to tackle the problem as a report predicted the number of Scots classed as obese would double to 40 per cent by 2030 if current trends continued.
She said: “Obesity is a huge threat to Scotland’s future and we are committed to tackling this. No country in the world has successfully addressed obesity - and we want Scotland to be the first.”
The government is concerned that the rising cost of tackling obesity will hit public finances and make it more difficult to achieve sustainable economic growth.
Costs are expected to increase six-fold from the current estimated spend of £457m a year to £3bn a year by 2020.
The cost to the NHS 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 entire revenue budget.
Indirect costs, such as sickness absence, are estimated at £282m to the taxpayer.
Ms Robison, speaking during a visit to a healthy eating breakfast club at St Mark’s Primary School in Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, said: “We cannot expect people to be able to change their behaviour alone as the environment we live in today means that for most people weight gain becomes almost inevitable.
“Excellent work is already under way but we have to go further and make serious changes that will transform our entire living environment.”
What does the Scottish Government plan to do to combat obesity?
- Work to ensure portion sizes better reflect consumers’ energy needs
- Work with the retail industry to make sure that promotional activity on food and drink promotes healthy eating
- Work to expand the range of healthier choices in convenience stories and remove confectionary displays from till points
- Explore measures to restrict the amount of high calorie foods sold near schools
- Ensuring that personal travel opportunities is a high priority in all land development plans and development management decisions
- Provide safe routes to schools for children who wish to cycle or walk
- Encourage employers to support staff in adopting more active means of travelling to and from work