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Public health minister vows to tackle obesity problem

Experts claim a takeaway culture leaves Scots 'hostile' to healthy eating promotions.

Changing attitudes: A toddlers' healthy cooking class in Renfrewshire. <strong>STV</strong>
Changing attitudes: A toddlers' healthy cooking class in Renfrewshire. STV

Scotland’s public health minister has vowed to tackle the country’s ongoing problem with obesity levels.

Latest figures from the Scottish Health Survey show 65% of adults aged 16 to 64 are heavier than they should be, compared to 52% in 1995.

Maureen Watt MSP, Scottish minister for public health, admitted that obesity levels were still “too high” across the country.

Ms Watt insisted that the Scottish Government was taking a range of steps to improve the situation, such as working with the food and drink industry to encourage firms to offer healthier choices and change recipes and running healthy eating campaigns like Eat Better Feel Better.

She said: “Despite some improvements in recent years, obesity levels are still too high in Scotland.

“In common with most of western Europe, we have seen continued increases in the levels of Type 2 diabetes.

“It’s clear that, as a nation, we need to improve our diet and think more about reducing our fat, salt and sugar intake and eating more fibre.”

Martin Raymond, who ran health campaigns in his former role as head of public affairs for NHS Health Scotland, said a takeaway culture of convenience food had contributed to the problem.

He said: “What’s happened over that period of time is that the environment that people live in and the environment around them has become more hostile to healthy eating.”

More traditional factors like poverty and a lack of access to affordable healthy food still play a big role, experts said.

Charlotte Mabely, who runs the gastronomy course at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh said: “Food is something that we should be able to enjoy and connect with and feel is nourishing us.

“But if it’s reduced down to a set of vitamins and minerals, salts, fats, it becomes more like medicine or something that is alien to us.”

Despite the figures, a variety of initiatives are running across the country to help buck the trend.

Among these are cooking clubs for toddlers to educate children about where food comes from and to help foster healthy habits from an early age, and fitness bootcamps for adults.

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