On 27th July 2017 NHS Health Scotland published new analysis of obesity related inequality. The briefing ‘Obesity and Health Inequalities’ describes how the Scottish adult population as a whole has become heavier over time. But this increase in weight is not evenly distributed across society – inequalities in levels of obesity exist between people living in the least and most deprived parts of Scotland.
Commenting on the research, Elaine Tod, Public Health Intelligence Advisor with NHS Health Scotland said:
Obesity used to be more common amongst the richer in society as it was only those who could afford to eat well who became obese. This trend has reversed and we now see higher rates of obesity in those who are less well-off. The reasons for this are complex and multi-factorial, including the affordability and availability of high fat, high sugar food in comparison with healthy food and the increasing popularity of more sedentary pastimes. What is clear is that action, including structural change at a societal level that does not require individuals to 'opt-in', is needed to achieve both a population-wide decrease in obesity in Scotland and to prevent health inequalities associated with obesity widening further.
Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead at Obesity Action Scotland added:
This report clearly outlines that the most deprived in our society are suffering the greatest burden of obesity. It also highlights that focusing on actions individuals can take only worsens the inequalities gap. If we want to ensure we tackle the gap we need to see bold, ambitious action to change the food environment around us to ensure the healthy choice is the easy choice for everyone.
‘Obesity in Scotland: A Persistent Inequality’, published in the International Journal for Equity in Health can be accessed http://www.scotpho.org.uk/publications/reports-and-papers/2055-obesity-and-health-inequalities-in-scotland
The briefing ‘Obesity and health inequalities’ can be accessed http://www.scotpho.org.uk/publications/reports-and-papers/2055-obesity-and-health-inequalities-in-scotland