Nation facing paying out billions over obesity unveils action plan

Scotland aims to become the first country in the world to successfully tackle the problem of obesity, which could cost the nation up to £3bn a year by 2030.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison yesterday unveiled the Scottish Government's strategy to tackle the problem as a report predicted the number of Scots classed as obese will double to 40 per cent by that year if current trends continue.

She said: "Obesity is a huge threat to Scotland's future and we are committed to tackling this. No country in the world has successfully addressed obesity – and we want Scotland to be the first."

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The Government is concerned that the rising cost of tackling obesity will hit public finances and make it more difficult to achieve sustainable economic growth.

Costs are expected to spiral sixfold from the current estimated spend of 457m a year.

The cost to the NHS of treating conditions linked to obesity, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, is currently estimated at 175m, the equivalent of two per cent of NHS Scotland's entire revenue budget.

Indirect costs, such as sickness absence, are estimated at 282m to the taxpayer.

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Ms Robison said: "We cannot expect people to be able to change their behaviour alone as the environment we live in today means that for most people weight gain becomes almost inevitable.

"Excellent work is already under way but we have to go further and make serious changes that will transform our entire living environment.

"We plan to work across all areas of Government to ensure that policies are directed at supporting people to achieve and then maintain a healthy weight."