96-page report on solving England’s obesity problems ignores lessons from Scottish Government success even though measured by English academics

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Don’t be ridiculous! What on earth could Scotland teach US?’

In Time to Solve Childhood Obesity: An Independent Report by the Chief Medical Officer, for England & Wales, published yesterday, Professor Dame Sally Davies, Cameron Prize winner from the University of Edinburgh (2017), does not mention Scotland once, yet peer-reviewed research from London-based academics points directly to how it can be achieved using methods developed by the Scottish Government.

Click to access cmo-special-report-childhood-obesity-october-2019.pdf


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.’

Also, published in November 2018, but ignored again by the Nomedia, later research findings supported 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 modestly 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)


2 thoughts on “96-page report on solving England’s obesity problems ignores lessons from Scottish Government success even though measured by English academics

  1. The beeb ‘Fact Check’ team manage (inadvertently) to scupper yet another of Better Together’s Project Fear inaccuracies from IndyRef 1. Remember all that toss about Scots nationals and rUK nationals not being treated (reciprocally) in each others’ hospitals and Health Services? – Beeb now confirm arrangements made pre-Brexit with Ireland exactly mirror the arrangements explained within the Scot.Gov Indy White Paper (and universally derided by the ‘british’ media/political class at the time).

    We all knew it was so – but there’s a certain grim satisfaction in seeing beeb’s State-Propagandist-In-Chief role forcing it to declare that what it identified as impossible in 2014 has, miraculously, become a done deal in 2019. Mind you – if beeb make a habit of allowing truths to, accidently, slip out in this way I can’t see them retaining their Royal Charter long-term. Link and snippets below:


    Brexit: Will Britons living in the EU still get healthcare?
    By Reality Check team BBC News

    The relationship between the UK and Ireland is different to the relationship between the UK and anywhere else in the EU because of the Common Travel Area (CTA).

    The UK and Irish governments are both committed to maintaining the CTA if there is a no-deal Brexit. It allows access to emergency, routine and planned healthcare for UK nationals in Ireland and Irish Nationals in the UK.

    UK nationals may still have to pay to access public healthcare in Ireland on the same basis that Irish citizens do.

    The UK government says British citizens living in Ireland will continue to be able to access healthcare on the same basis as Irish citizens after Brexit, regardless of whether there is a deal.

    The Irish government says that existing cross-border arrangements under which Irish nationals may be sent to Northern Ireland for treatment and vice versa will also continue.

    Liked by 1 person

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