More must to be done to tackle the rising rate of childhood obesity in Scotland, a leading figure has said after a report by the Scottish Government found that a third of children in the country were overweight.
The report, the Scottish Health Survey 2014, is a comprehensive report on the state of the Scottish public’s health. It found that 31% of children in the country were overweight, while 17% were at risk of becoming obese. The report noted that children aged two to 15 consumed an average of 2.8 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, comprising 1.5 portions of fruit, 0.9 of vegetables, and 0.4 of fruit juice. This meant that only 14% of children in the age group met the five-a-day recommendations in Scotland.
Dr Donald Macgregor, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: ‘Findings from today’s report that relate to poor diet is one key area for concern. To maintain a healthy weight it’s important to eat a balanced diet and get an appropriate level of exercise. So whilst children are saying they are doing the recommended level of physical activity each day, just 14% of two to 15-year-olds are eating five fruit and vegetables today, suggesting we’re not getting it right when it comes to our children’s diet.’
The report observed a disparity of healthy weight in children depending on the level of deprivation in their area. It states that children living in the least deprived areas are the least likely to be overweight, while those living in less affluent areas are much less likely to have a healthy weight. This disparity is also observed in diets, with 42% of those in the least deprived quintile reporting consuming unhealthy food or drinks once a day, compared to 58% in the most deprived areas.
Dr Macgregor added: ‘Only by instilling positive behaviours early and changing the wider environment will we begin to see a change in the lifestyles of children and young people, and following that, the adults of tomorrow.’