Sweet tooth Scots: Scotland has poorest diet in UK

By Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn

- Last updated on GMT

MSP says there is more to be done to shake Scotland's "Sick Man of Europe tag"
MSP says there is more to be done to shake Scotland's "Sick Man of Europe tag"

Related tags: United kingdom, Scotland

According to new government research Scottish people consume more fizzy drinks and sweets and eat less fruit and vegetables when compared to the UK average.

According to this latest data, published as part of the UK Department for Food and Environmental Affairs’ three year study, the average Scot buys 2,026 grams in soft drinks each week, compared to the average of 1,683 g for England and Wales.

Peering into the weekly shopping basket of family households across the UK, the research found that confectionery purchases stood at 151 g per person per week in Scotland and 132 g in the UK.

The findings also revealed differences within fruit and vegetable consumption. The average Brit was bought 1,134 g of vegetables each week and 1,180 g of fruit, with this falling to just 964 g of vegetables and 1,123 g of fruit in Scotland.

Health inequalities” ​and government policy

Reacting to the findings, Murdo Fraser, a Member of Scottish Parliament for the Scottish Conservatives, said that ensuring everyone in Scotland has access to the best possible diet is essential in reducing current “health inequalities”​, yet said that some of this responsibility must lie with the individual.

“Although the onus is on the Scottish Government and NHS to keep pushing the healthy eating messages, people also have to accept some personal responsibility.”

“There isn’t a person in Scotland who doesn’t know the risks of an unbalanced diet, so it’s important individuals do their bit too,”​ he said.

Fraser added that if individuals failed to do this Scotland would never shake its “Sick Man of Europe tag”​ and would continue to cost the cash-strapped NHS millions.

This year Scotland’s chief statistician, Roger Halliday, released official figures showing the country’s obesity rates had risen for another year. The data revealed that in Scotland the proportion of people aged 16-64 classified as overweight or obese had increased from 52.4% in 1995 to 61.9% in 2012.

In contrast, a recent initiative which sought to tackle Scotland’s obesity problem was shelved this month after food industry participants withdrew their support​. The publically available specification (PAS 2500) was intended to provide a benchmark for the responsible marketing of food and drink in cutting the consumption of food with high levels of fat, salt and sugar, but scepticism among stakeholders led to its abandonment. 

The initiative had aimed to target the country’s obesity problem. 

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