Physical Activity, Diet and Healthy Weight

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 15th November 2018.

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Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

That is exactly the point; expectations have gone up, which is good and means that we do not have the blaes pitches as much, but the new pitches cost money. Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Life subsidise pitch hire, but it still remains a big challenge in poor areas where parents do not have spare cash for the kids to go to the football club—that also applies to athletics at the likes of Crownpoint, where Mr Whittle and I spent a pleasant evening recently.

Preventative spend has been an underlying theme of the debate. It is better to prevent people from getting obese in the first place, rather than waiting until they are and trying to fix it. That might mean spending more on subsidising football pitches, but the challenge is where to disinvest to free up the money. Should we cut hospital budgets in order to fund sports activity? What would happen if that meant less money for hospitals?

Diet is clearly a major factor, which we have focused on today. It is a question of what we eat and how much, as members have mentioned. The odd can of Irn Bru or bar of chocolate is okay, but the volumes that some people consume are the problem. Some restaurants are guilty on the question of portion size; even if the food is healthy, the portion size is sometimes far too big. In our canteen in the Parliament, we can be guilty of that.

I agree that there is also an issue with what people are eating and that we should be moving to promote healthier food. I maintain that some of our traditional meals are pretty healthy—for example, mince and tatties or stew—and they do not have to be that expensive, although I take Alison Johnstone’s point that they are not always available cheaply locally. Generally speaking, mince and tatties for four will probably cost less than four fish suppers. However, an issue is that traditional cooking skills have been on the decline so there is a need for education in that regard.

Obesity stigma is a tricky area. On the one hand, we are saying that obesity is not a good thing, so we do not want to say at the same time that it is okay to be obese, but I agree that we need to tackle discrimination in employment and potentially related mental health problems.

I fear that there are no easy answers, but I agree with the overall theme that, just as we have tackled smoking and alcohol, we need to tackle obesity.