MacKay Hannah

ONLINE CONFERENCE Scotland’s public health obesity crisis: preventing and reducing obesity in Scotland

Tue 22nd Feb 2022

OVERVIEW View Conference Agenda

Scotland faces an acute obesity crisis. Two thirds of adults are overweight and almost a third are obese. Obesity is both a silent killer and a harmer of health, well being, life chances, equality and mental health. However, the evidence shows that many of us simply do not see being overweight or obese as either a health risk or as a medical issue. We are in denial as a nation about one of the greatest threats to our health. How therefore do we persuade people that obesity puts at risk both their quality of life and their life span? How do we fix a Scottish problem that so many do not recognise even exists?

This online conference examines Scotland's public health obesity crisis in the wider context of the global obesity challenge. It discusses how we can tackle obesity at all ages using the policies, services and financial powers of our public agencies and private and third sectors to promote good public health on obesity. It also considers quality of food supply and nutritional standards, the beneficial impact of healthy daily activity and eating behaviour. It will look at how to effectively promote positive habits on food health and active living in Scotland.

Scotland faces a number of obesity challenges – many of them exacerbated by the consequences of the COVID pandemic. One quarter of primary school children start school either overweight or obese. Being seriously overweight is linked to many chronic conditions, particularly type 2 diabetes and heart related conditions. Such conditions impact hugely on an individual’s quality of life, including their mental health, puts immense strain on Scotland’s health services and affects the economy and productivity through absences from work.

The Scottish Government is already committed to a range of measures for reducing and preventing obesity such as the Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan and the Active Scotland Delivery Plan published in 2018, the planned Good Food Nation Bill, a Bill being brought forward to place restrictions on the promotion and marketing of food and drink high in salt, fat or sugar, a range of weight management services, the establishment of Public Health Scotland and many more.

The growth of obesity is closely associated with lifestyle factors related to poor diet and physical inactivity, yet many individuals do not consider that being overweight or obese puts themselves ‘at risk'. Many don’t see being in this condition as a medical issue and that is one of the biggest public health challenges in tackling obesity.

We eat excessive amounts of poor-quality food. We comfort eat, particularly in relation to mental health and depression. We have high levels of food insecurity. We lead a sedentary lifestyle sitting at desks, in cars or on sofas while surfing the net, on social media and playing games. In a nutshell we eat too much, what we eat lacks good nutritional value and we don’t move enough. Whilst there can be underlying medical factors in some cases, being overweight and obese tends to be caused by environmental factors such as poor habits learnt during childhood, reinforced throughout the rest of our lives. So how do we achieve long term societal and cultural change?

This conference examines how we support those beyond childhood with weight and obesity problems in tackling their eating and activity habits. It looks at how we ensure our children understand that you are what you eat and that they have access to nutritious food which they can eat in healthy ways, together with developing positive active lifestyles. It asks how we address this challenge - similarly to promoting positive mental health - as an issue that is not for one sector or body to tackle, but for which all agencies and sectors have a responsibility and opportunity to play their part in transforming this aspect of Scotland's public health.

Benefits of attending

  • Understand more about the challenge Scotland faces in tackling obesity in Scotland, particularly following COVID
  • Examine what drives obesity and the health problems associated with it
  • Find out more about new strategies for preventing and reducing overweight and obesity in Scotland
  • Hear about the range of measures the Scottish Government is actively promoting to create a healthier Scotland
  • Discuss the ways in which Scotland can become more educated about food nutrition and food choices
  • Find out what initiatives Scotland’s food and drink industry is involved in to promote a healthier diet
  • Learn from the success of existing initiatives to get Scotland more active and eating more healthily

Who should attend?

  • Health Practitioners such as Dieticians, Psychological Services, GPs, Community Nurses, Public Health, Health Improvement Workers, Behavioural Scientists, Weight Management Experts
  • Policy Makers across the whole of the Public Sector
  • Youth Workers
  • Commercial Caterers
  • Suppliers of School and Hospital Food
  • Food and Drink Producers, Manufacturers and Advertisers
  • Academics linked to studies such as Exercise and Obesity
  • Third Sector
  • Professional, Membership and Industry Bodies
  • Campaign Groups


Professor John Frank

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Lorraine Tulloch

Programme Lead, Obesity Action Scotland

Elaine Wyllie MBE

Founder, The Daily Mile

Craig Joyce

FFIT Development Officer, SPFL Trust

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