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Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

Over the past year, NHS Health Scotland has worked with ScotCen on the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey to find out what the public think about obesity and the actions that can be taken to address it. We are pleased to share our findings in our report, out today.

The percentage of adults (over 16 years) in Scotland who are overweight and obese was 65% in 2016. The reasons for this are complex, but simply put, the way we live today, makes it easier to eat too much food and to do too little activity. There is a lot of evidence about what action is needed to address obesity in Scotland.

Deborah Shipton, Public Health Intelligence Advisor at NHS Health Scotland, and author of the report, said:

“The results of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey on obesity are encouraging. They tell us not only that the public agree that the levels of overweight and obesity in Scotland is a problem, but crucially that they believe that supermarkets, food producers, schools, the media and the government, alongside individuals, all have a role to play to address it.

“The findings also give us insight into how different groups talk about and understand obesity. We can tailor interventions to get maximum benefit and we can feel confident about some of the bolder, societal level actions needed, safe in the knowledge that the majority of the public understand the need for and support them. Taken together with the evidence of what works, today’s report brings us closer to making sure that the places we live, work, play, learn and shop help us make healthy choices and maintain a healthy weight, so that we can improve health, reduce health inequalities across Scotland”.

Susan Reid, Research Director, ScotCen said:

“Research funded by NHS Health Scotland and carried out on ScotCen’s annual Scottish Social Attitudes survey shows that the majority of people in Scotland are in favour of a wide range of possible policy interventions aimed at tackling obesity. Most support was shown for placing limits on the amount of fat, sugar or salt added to food by manufacturers, with over 8 in 10 people in favour of such limits being introduced.

“There was also a majority support for policies such as taxation that will increase the price of unhealthy foods. For example 6 in 10 people supported a tax on sugary fizzy drinks”.

You can find more information on obesity on our diet and obesity pages.