Research on obesity in Scotland wrongly based on estimates and ignoring improvements due to Scottish Government policies

Cancer Research UK has produced a report suggesting that obesity is causing more cases of cancers than smoking dose. The report is all over UK and Scottish media, but the Scottish figures are only estimates based on a simple proportion of the UK figures which ignore recent per-reviewed research suggesting that the obesity problem in Scotland is being reduced by Scottish Government action and this in turn casts doubt on their conclusions about cancer here.

TWO studies not based on mere estimates suggest very strongly that the prospects are different in Scotland:

First, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reported in the Independent on 26th May 2018:

‘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.’

Second, 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%].’

‘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).’

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.

This study also attributes credit to Scottish Government policy initiatives:

‘Food available in and around schools has also been a focus of policy aimed at improving children’s diets. Legislation requiring local authorities to ensure schools provide food and drink of an appropriate nutritional standard has been in place since 2007 with accompanying guidance’

‘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 Fund. 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.’




10 thoughts on “Research on obesity in Scotland wrongly based on estimates and ignoring improvements due to Scottish Government policies

  1. Clydebuilt July 3, 2019 / 8:43 am

    O/T apologies Prof.

    Shona Craven (Journalist at the National) on GMS discussing BBC wages, Whiteford finished off with query on BBC bias
    SC. said SNP under representation to be adressed, finished off saying both sides of the Independence debate compain of bias, so it’s often in the eyes of the beholder.

    So it is Shona, changing her tune, frequent paychecks for BBC and STV interviews are having the desired effect!

    As soon as I heard her I thought of this sites daily exposure of BBC anti independence bias.
    What’s she doing working at the National.

    Liked by 2 people

    • John July 3, 2019 / 12:28 pm

      That was my thoughts when I listened this morning .What is it they say , “he who pays the piper calls the tune ” , looks like Shona is falling into that category.

      Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 July 3, 2019 / 2:25 pm

      The National often has Fry, McKenna and McWhirter attacking SNP from supposed position of support for independence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • John July 3, 2019 / 2:39 pm

        Correct , methinks they are a Troygen horse.


  2. John July 3, 2019 / 2:43 pm

    Trojan even .


  3. gavin July 3, 2019 / 4:59 pm

    Reduce obesity now.

    Put an end to the fatheads (like fatburgs, but more visible) in Scotland——— Ruthie Finsmither, Pamela thingy+bob, Wee Wullie and all the rest.

    Wait till Boris gets the gig—Ruthie will do her @rse licking thing, and proclaim on Distorting Scotland her enduring support for the Bullingdon Buly Boy–

    “I was always a fan”—–.”A big fan”——– “A big, big fan”.


    • John July 3, 2019 / 5:05 pm



  4. Ludo Thierry July 3, 2019 / 5:26 pm

    Hi Gavin – interestingly both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Rhyming-Slang were Bullingdon Boys at Oxford. Rhyming-Slang’s membership gets curiously little mention in the msm – I wonder why? – I believe Rhyming-Slang’s membership was at the same era as Boris Johnson’s brother Jo Johnson – so doubtless Rhyming-Slang and bro Jo can reminisce with BoJo! (There you go msm – I’ve even given you as ‘headline’ to use).


    • gavin July 3, 2019 / 8:23 pm

      Well researched Ludo. Of course this will not be for public consumption. There is a Britain promulgated in the press, TV and radio. Then there is another Britain where the elite live, play and frolic—it is secret and stays that way, as the people who own and control the media are part of “the club”.

      My father had an exempt status during the war, and worked abroad. He was a member of the “Left Book Club”. On one of his trips home (by ship), his books were confiscated (though they were not banned) and he was interviewed as to his politics by two men who were, and remained, anonymous. His books were never returned.


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