Scottish School Meals | Obesity
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1/4 Scottish school children are obese. It’s not just a Scottish phenomenon. It’s a worldwide problem

150,000 school-aged Scottish children are obese. There’s approximately 670,000 children at school – a quick calculation shows that nearly a quarter of all Scottish children are, therefore, overweight. It’s not just a Scottish phenomenon. It’s a worldwide problem    but, as a nation we are number two behind the US – second in the world when it comes to Obesity!


Not surprisingly, statistics show that children from our most deprived communities are more obese, and that gap is widening. 

Scotland has led the way in the UK on producing healthy balanced diets in the school meals service – our menus, unlike those in schools across the border, are created under statutory guidance. – some of our services have been leaders in creating menus from sustainable and local sources, and all our school meals services are constantly striving to produce the best quality meals at affordable prices.


Dr Catherine Calderwood, the Chief Medical officer of Scotland said a drop in obesity rates amongst primary one children had only occurred because of the higher rate of decline in children from affluent areas.


“The rate is falling, however the wealthier children are responsible for the fall. Poorer children are getting fatter.’

Why is this happening?

It’s a complicated picture.

Dr Calderwood said,


“We have a responsibility to try to change those trends – as a government, as a society. Our children and their health is the health of the future nation. “Perhaps the policies haven’t been strong enough?”


Or perhaps the policies haven’t worked because the picture is so very complicated.


But behaviour change is hard and power rests with the people to create their own behaviour – not with policy. However, she urged that more thought is required into the balance between voluntary and regulatory work with the food community.  We need to make it easier for people to do the right thing – “two apples for the price of one” rather than two bags of sweets.

Lorraine Tulloch from Obesity Action Scotland has said that we need a range of urgent and decisive actions which together can begin to make a difference, such as, portion size regulation for retail and packaged meals, a sugar tax on sweetened beverages, a regulatory framework on price promotions of foods high in fat, sugar or salt, improved labelling in retail and out-of-home sectors, and an advertising 9pm watershed for certain foods, and restrictions on marketing to children through other media.


In March 2016, the Scottish Government announced that the Scottish Dietary Goals have been revised. According to the new goals, consumers should try to eat even less sugar and more fibre. Food Standards Scotland has launched a new Eatwell Guide, showing the proportions of food and drinks that make up a healthy balanced diet, reflecting the new dietary recommendations.


Fitness is an important part of the mix too. 21% of the population does not walk for 20 minutes once a year.

Give us your ideas about how we can work together to reduce obesity levels and make Scotland a healthier nation.