Responding to the Primary 1 Body Mass Index Statistics report, Dr Graeme Eunson, chair of the BMA’s Scottish Consultants Committee, said: “These statistics are extremely concerning and underline years of clear evidence that urgent substantive action to tackle childhood obesity and poor diet across Scotland is long overdue. That such a marked and widening gap persists between our most deprived and most affluent communities further underlines the need for new, radical and innovative measures that engage all sections of society. For too long, the poorest families in Scotland have been marginalised and stigmatised, without any meaningful action to deal with the fundamental inequalities in our society.
“It is utterly shameful that the health inequality gap in children is widening and unless we act now it will only continue to contribute to poorer health in the future. Living under lockdown restrictions in a global pandemic will not have helped matters, but a 6.8% increase in the overall proportion of primary 1 children who are at risk of being overweight or obese between 2019/20 and 2020/21 is shocking and must be urgently addressed. This will require clear and consistent public health messaging, strong action to encourage active, healthy lifestyles and better education on the benefits of healthier living. We also need to make it much easier for families to access affordable, healthy food and for safe, green spaces to be a right, not a privilege.
“The Scottish Government’s recent announcement as part of its Programme for Government that it will introduce a Public Health Bill that includes restrictions on unhealthier food and drink promotions is to be welcomed, but it can only be part of a more wide-ranging programme to promote healthier living in all ages – but especially, and urgently, in children right now. Failure to do so will lead to more pressure on our health service in the future as well as a the wider societal impacts of a less healthy population.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.