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Five-point plan to tackle childhood obesity in Scotland

In advance of a debate on obesity in the Scottish Parliament today, BMA Scotland has called on politicians to take tough action to tackle childhood obesity. 

In a briefing paper sent to MSPs, the BMA outlined its five-point plan for tackling chilhood obesity in Scotland. The paper also highlights the long-term health consequences of obesity and calls on Ministers to take a cross governmental approach to address soaring levels of obesity in Scotland's children.

In Scotland in 2006/07, one in five of Primary 1 school children were overweight, including 8.5% who were obese and 4.3% who were severely obese. The highest levels of overweight, obese and severely obese children were found in the most deprived areas.

Dr Dean Marshall, Chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said: "Childhood obesity rates in Scotland are worryingly high. The government's action plan provides little detail on real actions that will reverse this trend.  It is time for the government to take tough action.  

The report recommends that, as part of the wider strategy to tackle childhood obesity in Scotland, the Scottish Government must focus on the following five areas:

  • Nutrition in schools
  • Exercise
  • The media and advertising
  • Food labelling and health claims
  • The role of health professionals

In Scotland, over 40 people a day are diagnosed with diabetes, and most of these cases are type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked with obesity. Increasing rates in childhood obesity will also lead to more future cases of heart disease, osteoarthritis and some cancers.  And UK-wide, the health service spends at least £2bn every year on treating ill health caused by poor diet.