Obesity

– in the Scottish Parliament on 5th October 2017.

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Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

Is the First Minister aware that the just-published annual Scottish health survey shows that as a nation we are substantially overweight and that adults are consuming less fruit and vegetables? That report comes just before obesity and cancer awareness week, which starts on Monday.

Given that this Parliament has successfully tackled smoking and is now tackling alcohol misuse, does the First Minister agree that we must focus more on tackling Scotland’s food culture, which although improving still sees Scots living in a nation that is blessed with an abundance of nutritious, healthy food, but has a very challenging health record. Does she agree that the forthcoming food bill has a big role to play, and that we also need to tackle issues such as multibuy deals in supermarkets, something that I was reminded of a few days ago when I saw a young pupil buying four doughnuts for his lunch?

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

I should probably be careful not to single out the person that Richard Lochhead referred to.

There is a serious issue here. We are actually seeing rates of childhood obesity decline. They have declined from 17 per cent in 2014 to the rate that we saw in 1998, which is 14 per cent. However, that is still too high.

When I set out the programme for government last month, I said that it is time to show the same ambition on the growing public health challenge of obesity as the ambition that we have shown on alcohol misuse and smoking. That is why we have indicated that we will bring forward a range of new measures to tackle obesity, including limiting the marketing of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

We need to continue to put across the messages around healthy eating, and of course we also have to continue to encourage young people to be more active. That is why things such as the daily mile and the increase in physical education provision in schools are so important.

Richard Lochhead is right to identify obesity as a major public health challenge and he is right to talk about the potential of the food bill to help us increase healthy eating across our country.