Childhood Obesity

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 26th June 2003.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 2:30 pm, 26th June 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what action it is taking to tackle childhood obesity. (S2O-299)

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

Scotland's health improvement policy emphasises the need for concerted action on obesity. The two key risk factors are poor diet and lack of physical activity. "Improving Health in Scotland: The Challenge" has a major focus on improving lifestyles, including healthy eating and physical activity. A key setting for this work is both in the early years and during the teenage transition.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

Does the minister agree that reduced physical activity is one of the most significant factors in weight gain for children and adolescents, which will lead to major health problems in adulthood? Over the past 20 years, the number of children travelling to school by car, as opposed to walking or cycling, has doubled.

Will the minister and the Executive agree to work across departments on the issue? Does the minister recognise that schemes such as the safer routes to school scheme not only tackle congestion but work to improve the health of young people across Scotland?

Photo of Tom McCabe Tom McCabe Labour

I am happy to give that assurance and I acknowledge Sarah Boyack's work in previous years on safer routes to school. That project continues and is being actively pursued. The project makes a major contribution to children's physical activity. The encouragement that is given to the project remains and will continue into the future.