European Obesity Day: Action for a Healthier Future

Saturday 21st May 2016 is European Obesity Day with its theme of ‘Action for a Healthier Future’. Organised by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), European Obesity Day will see events taking place across Europe to highlight the public health crisis caused by obesity.

With 2 in 3 Scottish people aged between 16 and 64 classed as obese or overweight, there is an urgent need to take steps to turn the tide on obesity.

In recent years, the underlying trend in adult obesity has been increasing, especially amongst pregnant women, while obesity in children, once very rare, has become an increasing cause for concern for the future health of Scotland. Added to this, research has now identified a growing inequality element to obesity, with lower socio-economic groups seeing faster increases in obesity.

Why is Obesity an Issue?

Every year obesity causes 337,000 premature deaths in Europe.

Excess body fat is not just a store of energy. Fat cells produce various hormones and chemicals which are carried by blood around the body. They increase the risk of eleven different cancers and Type 2 diabetes. Obesity is linked to; complications of pregnancy, impaired fertility in women and men, cardiovascular disease, problems with breathing, diseases of the digestive system and musculoskeletal system and with increased depression and anxiety.

Taking Action for a Healthier Future will require a concerted effort by everyone, from government to individuals. Government policy can help to create a food environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice and individuals should have the options and knowledge to allow them to make choices which will not have a negative impact on their long-term health. For individuals, eating a little less every day, in balance with nutritional needs is the best measure that we can take if we are overweight – and that means most of us.

Obesity Action Scotland is calling for all MSPs across the new Scottish Parliament to commit to FIVE measures to tip the scales in favour of healthy weight.

  1. Implement actions that will achieve healthy weight in Scotland
  2. Explore how price and regulation could improve the Scottish diet
  3. Reinvest revenue from the sugar tax into initiatives to help children achieve healthy weight
  4. Position the public sector to lead by example in tackling obesity
  5. Create a framework to reduce sugar and fat content of food to improve the Scottish diet

On Wednesday 18th May we expect the Queens speech to contain details of the proposed levy on sugary drinks and this is an important first step in changing the food environment.  We would call for further bold action from UK and Scottish Government to tackle obesity.

For advice on how to lose weight, visit NHS Choices where there is advice on developing healthier eating habits and increasing physical activity levels. To know more about the levels of sugar in foods, download the Sugar Smart app.

Find out more about obesity, its causes and effects through the Obesity Action Scotland website: