December 13, 2005
Scottish kids among world’s most overweight
By Matthew Jones
LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish children are among the most
overweight in the world thanks to a diet of junk food and a
couch potato lifestyle, health experts said on Tuesday, warning
of possible severe health problems in later life.
Official statistics revealed a third of Scots children were
classed overweight before they hit their teens, that one in
five was obese and that more than one in 10 was rated as
"Twenty percent of children classed as obese puts Scotland
pretty much in the same league as the United States," said
Neville Rigby of the International Obesity Taskforce, an
independent body that brings together obesity experts.
"We do see high rates of obesity in other countries,
especially southern Europe, but what you see in Scotland is a
worrying trend," Rigby, the taskforce's director for public
affairs told Reuters.
The figures from Scottish Health Statistics showed that
among Scottish children born in 2001, 20.7 percent were
overweight by the time they were 3-1/2 years old.
While there was no one factor which causes childhood
obesity the twin demons of poor diet and lack of exercise are
considered key problems.
"Obesity often tracks deprivation. There is a correlation
between low income and poor food choices," said Dr Beckie Lang,
a public health nutritionist at Britain's Association for the
Study of Obesity.
"There is a problem of filling up on cheap, poor quality
Levels of obesity in Scottish children rose over the last
five years and have significantly surpassed levels anticipated
15 years ago when it was expected that 15 percent would be
overweight, 5 percent obese and just 2 percent severely obese.
OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS.
Scotland has sometimes been dubbed "the sick man of Europe"
for a health record which does not compare favorably with other
"If you look at heart disease and cancer rates, Scotland
has not fared as well as other people," Dr Toni Steer, a
nutritionist at the Medical Research Council (MRC) told
The report warned that being overweight or obese during
childhood could lead to physical and mental health problems in
later life, such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis,
back pain, low self-esteem and depression.
Rigby said more work needs to be done.
"The main issue is diet. We need children to be eating
better quality food and we need to encourage people to move
around more on bikes and on foot."
He said it was not helpful that children faced a "barrage"
of advertising and marketing from the fast-food industry.