News Thursday June 26, 2014

Scotland wages war on fast food

In light of predictions that 40% of Scotland could be obese by 2030, the Scottish government is now waging a fresh war on the bulge.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison has called for Scotland to become the first country in the world to tackle the problem. "Obesity is a huge threat to Scotland's future and we are committed to tackling this,” she pledged.

Obesity costs Scotland over £457 million each year. However, it is a “ticking time bomb,” that could eventually cost the tax payer as much as £3bn, said Ms Robinson.

The government there is set to work closely with the food industry, regulating the level of exposure that people are given to high-calorie products. Shops will be encouraged to stock healthier foods, while sweets could be removed from their standard position in front of tills, and replaced with more nutritious products.

Shops and workplaces will be targeted by the anti-obesity strategy and employers will be urged to encourage people to monitor both their diets and their exercise levels.

Going far enough?

Some doubts have been raised about the government’s plans. The Scottish Retail Consortium said that while it supports the new strategy, tackling obesity is ultimately the responsibility of individuals, who must make their own personal choices to live healthier lifestyles.

Opposition party, the Scottish Conservatives, say there is room to expand on the move. They have proposed a Universal Health Visiting System, which would provide families with key nutritional advice during their early years. A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats was even more critical, telling reporters: “The strategy published today does not fully set out how the Scottish Government hopes to achieve its far reaching aims”.

Nevertheless, there will be many applauding the government’s efforts to highlight the severe effects of obesity in Scotland. As with other countries around the world, obesity in Scotland causes heart disease, diabetes and an array of other health problems. Obesity is increasingly being attributed with pre-mature deaths in Britain.

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