Slow Progress. Limited Success. Requires More Effort.

The conclusion of Obesity Action Scotland on progress on tackling obesity and overweight in the six years since the launch of the Obesity Route Map (ORM) has been published today in a Report Card “Obesity in Scotland Six Years Later”.

Rating 6 key commitments from the ORM, Obesity Action Scotland concluded “Slow Progress. Limited Success. Requires More Effort.”

The report card highlights that rates of adult obesity and overweight have remained stubbornly high (65%) and the proportion of children of a healthy weight has not improved (68%).  Whilst we have made good progress towards physical activity targets we have not changed the poor Scottish diet.

Today, the Scottish Public Health Network (ScotPHN), the Scottish Directors of Public Health, Obesity Action Scotland and Health Scotland came together to discuss what progress has been made on obesity and overweight in and how we can take things forward/improve performance

ScotPHN and the Scottish Directors of Public Health have published a “Review of the Obesity Route Map” and a “Report on the Development of the Child Healthy Weight Programme in Scotland”.[i]  These two reports together with the report card highlight that we continue to have a problem that needs action.  The ORM is world leading in its vision and aspiration and is a comprehensive strategy; We can make Scotland world leading in obesity management and prevention but we need to deliver all parts of the ORM.

Dr Emilia Crighton, from Obesity Action Scotland and Interim Director of Public Health, Greater Glasgow and Clyde said, “Obesity kills and costs the economy. Obesity is a real problem affecting the health of Scottish people, particularly its effects on diabetes and pregnancy outcomes. The Report Card tells the painful truth that our efforts to date have failed to turn the tide of obesity. It’s time to take bold action based on the evidence and let’s start by tackling the Scottish diet by restricting marketing and promotions, reducing sugar and fat content of foods, pricing measures such as a sugar tax and improving the labelling of foods bought in shops and restaurants

Dr Drew Walker, Director of Public Health NHS Tayside and lead on obesity for the Scottish Directors of Public Health stated that “Scotland is in the middle of an obesity epidemic. If we do not halt that epidemic, the physical and mental health of Scots will deteriorate, our health and social care services will struggle to cope, our children’s educational attainment will be adversely affected and children will be less likely to achieve their full potential, the Scottish economy will underperform, the cost of obesity to Scotland will increase (currently up to £4.6bn) and Scotland will be a less successful, less economically vibrant and less happy nation.

But all of that is preventable – we know what needs to be done – now we need to increase our efforts across a wide range of fronts to turn the tide and make the future Scotland the country it can be.

Dr Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science, Health Scotland stated that “We need to work together urgently to change minds and change expectations about good food, reduced calorie consumption and all influences on healthy weight.  We will work with a range of organisations, local and national government and community groups to reduce the burden of disease caused by obesity, and all resultant consequences on the NHS and public services.”