Thousands of children receive treatment for obesity

Fat boy web

Health experts have expressed concern at figures which reveal 5,000 under-18s needed specialist weight treatment

16th February 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Children as young as two are being referred to obesity specialists.

Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to Scottish health boards have revealed that more than 500 pre-school children have received specialist weight management referrals in the last three years.

The problem is most apparent in Glasgow, with the health board referring 282 children aged between two and four to its team of specialists since 2014/15.

Overall, more than 5,000 under-18s have been referred to specialists over concerns about their weight, with more than 60,000 adults also using the services.

Cancer Research UK expressed concern at the statistics, and highlighted the link between diet and cancer.

The charity’s Professor Linda Bauld said: “Almost a quarter of children are already overweight or obese when they start school. Unless we do more to address this, we’re storing up problems for the future. An obese child is five times more likely to be an obese adult which puts them at greater risk of 13 types of cancer.

“That’s why prevention needs to be at the heart of Scotland’s new diet and obesity strategy. A good start to changing children’s food environment would be regulation to restrict multi-buy offers on junk food.”

Public health minister Aileen Campbell said: “We put forward a bold package of measures in our draft diet and healthy weight strategy to help everyone make positive choices, empower personal change, and makes Scotland a healthier place to live. The strategy includes world-leading proposals to restrict the marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

“Now that the strategy consultation has closed, we will continue to lead the consensus across the political spectrum as we set out our next steps. As was the case with tobacco and minimum unit pricing for alcohol, when Parliament unites around a common purpose we can make a real and lasting change to the health of our nation.”

The Scottish Conservatives, who submitted the FoI requests, said it is essential that a meaningful strategy is provided to improve Scotland’s health.