As BBC Scotland scarily headline untested new method to measure obesity, a second research report shows obesity among Scottish children is in decline and is already significantly lower than that in non-Scottish parts of UK with Scottish Government policies once more associated with this progress.
Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reported in the Independent on 26th May 2018 suggested:
‘Under current trends it is predicted that 11 per cent of the population in Wales will be morbidly obese in 2035, roughly 340,000 adults, while Scotland is likely to plateau at about 5 per cent and England will rise to about 8 per cent.’
The researchers offer a surprisingly clear, confident and simple explanation for the significantly slower growth in Scotland – Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation:
‘The government put a massive push on developing a route map for how we can actually combat this. They put together resources from the NHS that were proving to be effective. They did put a lot of work into it.’
I appreciate that the trend graph relates to combined male and female obesity, but the table below shows that for other than two groups, the prevalence of obesity in Scottish women is expected to be significantly lower than that in England or Wales and notably much lower for the 15-24-year-olds most likely to have experienced, in schools and colleges, the ‘Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation.’
Table: Predicted % prevalence of obesity
Published three days ago but ignored by the Nomedia, new research findings support the London School findings:
From Growing Up in Scotland: Overweight and Obesity at Age 10:
‘Historic data from the survey shows that the prevalence of overweight [in Scotland] including obesity remained relatively stable between 1998 and 2016, fluctuating between 28% and 33%. However, in recent years levels of obesity have shown a steady decline dropping from 17% in 2014. This is largely due to a decline in obesity amongst boys which have dropped from 20% in 2012 to 12% in 2017 [40%].’ (14)
‘The results are broadly comparable with similar UK research. For example, analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort Study showed that the proportion of healthy, overweight and obese 5-year olds becoming or remaining obese by age 11 were 6%, 32% and 68% respectively (Mead et al, 2016). Comparative figures from analysis of administrative data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)13 in England were 8%, 43% and 77% (Copley et al, 2017).’ (25)
So, compared to England, 25% fewer healthy 5-year-olds becoming obese by 11 in Scotland. Similarly, 25% fewer overweight 5-year-olds becoming obese and 12% fewer obese 5-year-olds remaining obese.
While the London School research directly attributes credit to Scottish Government policy initiatives, this merely associates them. See:
‘Food available in and around schools has also been a focus of policy aimed at improving children’s diets. Legislation5 requiring local authorities to ensure schools provide food and drink of an appropriate nutritional standard has been in place since 2007 with accompanying guidance’ (17)
‘Progress towards achieving the goal of a more active population has been made through a range of activities in recent years including the implementation of the National Walking Strategy (Scottish Government, 2014c), the Cycling Action Plan (Scottish Government, 2017b), the Active Schools programme8, Community Sports Hubs9 and the Legacy 2014 Physical Activity Fund10. Of particular relevance for children and young people is the Scottish Government’s commitment to expanding the Daily Mile11 to ensure that Scotland becomes the first ‘Daily Mile nation’ with roll out to nurseries, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. Recent research results suggest the Daily Mile is effective at increasing levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), reducing sedentary time, increasing physical fitness and improving body composition.’ (17/18)