Food and diet

Food and diet play a major role in health and wellbeing. Inequality in access to a healthy diet contribute towards health inequalities.

You can find out more about our work on food and diet, including our healthyliving award for caterers and our Community Food and Health Scotland website below.

  • The cost of eating a healthy diet is greater than the cost of eating a less healthy diet.
  • Eating a healthy diet can help reduce the risk of developing serious conditions including heart disease, certain cancers, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • In 2014, 20% of adults and only 14% of children aged 2-15 consumed the recommended amount of five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

You can read more data on food and diet on the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) website (external).

Food and health inequalities

Access to adequate food is a human rights issue. One of the ways to reduce health inequalities and to improve health is to integrate the principles of human rights into food policy and decision making.

Food poverty is the inability to access enough of the right food through socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so. People on low incomes and those living in deprived areas have been found to consume a less healthy diet and so are more likely to experience the adverse health outcomes that come with a poor diet.  This could be because affordable healthy food options are not available where they live.

UK data suggests that food prices have increased at a greater rate than inflation and in real terms food prices have increased by 18% between 2007 and 2013. When we consider the impact of food prices relative to income, the lowest income groups spend a greater part of their income on food and are most affected by rises in price. The rising cost of food combined with decreases in household income has made food poverty a reality for many low income households in Scotland.  You can download our Food Poverty Position Statement for more background.

National and local action

The Scottish Government introduced a strategic approach to food and diet in 2009 with the publication of Recipe for Success, Scotland’s first national food and drink policy (external website).  This policy sets out action to promote healthier and better informed food and drink choices. 

It also lay the foundations for the Scottish Government’s Supporting Healthy Choices framework (external website), published in 2014. This framework sets out the action needed to better support healthy diets and help reduce health inequalities. 

The Scottish Government’s follow up strategy, Becoming a Good Food Nation (external website), strengthened their commitment to reducing diet-related disease.

These strategies state that a range of actions are required to make improvements to diet in Scotland, including changes to where we live.  They include

  • decreasing access and availability of unhealthy options
  • increasing access, availability and affordability of healthy options.

Our healthyliving award is a national award for caterers make it easier for their customers to eat more healthily.

Our work with and within low income communities, tackles health inequalities that stem from a poor diet. The core aim of Community Food and Health (Scotland) initiative is to ensure that everyone in Scotland has access to a healthy, affordable and acceptable diet for themselves, their families and their communities.

You may want to find out about the Scottish Grocers' Federation Healthy Living Programme (external website), an initiative to support convenience food vendors in Scotland to increase the range and availability of healthy products available, especially in disadvantaged communities.

 You can contact us to find out more about our work and how you can get involved.