Loneliness and Obesity

04 May 2018

We recently submitted a response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on lonliness; A CONNECTED SCOTLAND: Tackling social isolation and loneliness and building stronger social connections

We face multiple challenges in Scotland that affect our physical and mental health and action is being taken forward on many of those issues.  As a nation we need to improve our diet to improve our health and food provides a great opportunity to increase social connection. 

We believe that food can be a simple and powerful way of bringing people together and tackling the problem of social isolation and loneliness. Increased cross-governmental collaboration, creating better links with other parts of government who aim to achieve the same goals but for different reasons and through different strategies can facilitate it. Different agendas don’t necessarily mean different goals.

Food is central to many of the issues we care about – social justice, health, the environment, social connections and the economy. The Scottish Food Coalition suggest that a Good Food Nation is one in which everyone has access to the nutritious food they need, where diet-related diseases are in decline, food production is environmentally sound, work in the food sector is rewarding, and people value good food. The Good Food Nation Bill is recognition that legislation is necessary to deliver a food system that is fit for purpose in Scotland.

Scotland was among the first countries to adopt the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in July 2015, with an aspiration to provide international leadership on reducing inequality. The 17 goals are ambitious and far-reaching, with associated targets that demand significant progress by 2030. The goals are interrelated, and advancement on each goal will support progress on others. The following four goals can directly relate to issues of social isolation and loneliness:

  • Goal 1: no poverty (end poverty in all its forms everywhere)
  • Goal 3: good health and wellbeing (reduce inequality within and among countries)
  • Goal 5: reduced inequalities (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages)
  • Goal 11: sustainable cities and communities (make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable)

As poverty is linked to numerous negative outcomes, i.e. rates of obesity are higher in those from more deprived areas, we therefore see potential in aligning approaches that tackle both loneliness and social isolation as well as obesity in Scotland. Greater integration and joining up of the role of food across Government strategies has the potential to fundamentally improve Scotland’s health and well-being.

Read our full consultation response

Image: World Obesity Federation