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by Jenni Davidson
11 December 2019
More than a fifth of P1s in Scotland at risk of being overweight or obese

Junk food - Image credit: Flickr creative commons

More than a fifth of P1s in Scotland at risk of being overweight or obese

More than a fifth of primary one pupils in Scotland are at risk of being overweight or obese, new official statistics have shown.  

Figures from the NHS Information Services Division on the BMI of primary one children across Scotland reveal that 22.4 per cent are at risk of being overweight or obese, while 77.6 per cent were of a healthy weight.

Of these, 12.2 per cent were at risk of overweight, while 10.2 per cent were at risk of obesity.

While the proportion of children who are at risk of being overweight or obese has stayed quite constant since 2001-02, the gap between rich and poor areas has widened, with the proportion of primary one children at risk of obesity in the most deprived areas now more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas.

In the most deprived areas this year, 13.7 per cent of primary one children were at risk of obesity, while 6.5 per cent were at risk of obesity in the least deprived areas.

being overweight can cause a number of serious health problems over the course of life, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, asthma and breathing difficulties, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

It can also have an impact on self-esteem and lead to bullying.

Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults.

Lorraine Tulloch, programme lead of Obesity Action Scotland said: “It is concerning to see that the inequalities gap in obesity in primary one children in Scotland continues to grow.

“Today’s report shows that the gap between primary one children living in the most deprived and least deprived areas at risk of obesity is now the widest it has been since records began.

“We need to do more to protect our children. Ambitious action is urgently required.  

“The Scottish Government have committed to halving childhood obesity by 2030, but we need more actions to improve our food environment if we want to achieve that.”

Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone said: “It is absolutely shocking that so many of our children are at risk of becoming overweight or obese.

“Scotland’s children have been facing a public health crisis for 18 years and we are no closer to tackling it.

“Measures such as removing sugary, high-fat foods from schools are a positive step but we need a greater focus on prevention.

“The link between poverty and obesity is well known and we must first address the root causes of health inequalities if we are to tackle the obesity epidemic.

“Access to cheap, nutritious food and free, easily-accessible sports facilities would go some way to narrowing the gap between the most and least deprived, but ensuring that everyone has a stable, sufficient income is the best means of improving health outcomes.

“This would allow families meet their basic needs, including access to proper nutrition.”

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