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Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 at 4:26 pm
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Nearly Half of Scots Say Healthy Eating Too Expensive

Almost half (46 per cent) of people in Scotland say they do not eat healthily because it is too expensive, according to new research from UK health charity, Nuffield Health.  One in ten people (10 per cent) said they do not have time to prepare healthy food, and the same number said they do not understand how to eat healthily as it is too difficult.    

These are the findings of research out today from UK health charity Nuffield Health, who questioned 3,100 UK adults*. The figures provide a snapshot of the views of Scots on obesity and healthy lifestyle choices.  Experts say the findings are concerning, show poor understanding about healthy living and an acceptance of obesity as ‘the norm’ in society.

The research, carried out to support National Obesity Awareness Week, highlights the urgency for effective obesity prevention strategies.  Of those polled in Scotland, a third (34 per cent) of people said they had noticed a rise in obesity in the area they live in, with more than a third (38 per cent) saying that seeing obese children was commonplace.  The figures back up research released yesterday by the National Obesity Forum which shows that current strategies are failing to halt the rise in obesity, and that a 2007 prediction that more than half of the UK population will be obese by 2050 will be exceeded if action isn’t taken.

In Scotland, almost two thirds of respondents were measured as overweight – with a Body Mass Index of more than 25 – which significantly increases the prospects of obesity related health issues.  When questioned about weight management, of this group:

  • Over a third (35 per cent) said they had accepted that they would always be overweight due to lack of willpower
  • Almost a third (30 per cent) had never tried to lose weight – the UK’s highest figure
  • A quarter would rather be overweight than have to watch what they eat.

When questioned about attitudes towards exercise, the figures showed:

  • 40 per cent said they find exercise boring
  • One in five (20 per cent) do not have time to exercise
  • One in seven (14 per cent) said they would rather be overweight than exercise.

When questioned about the Government’s response to tackling the problem, almost half (49 per cent) said that companies selling fast food or fizzy drinks should be banned from sponsoring high profile events; 47 per cent of those surveyed want to see increased funding for recognised weight management programmes; 43 per cent said they would like to see GP referrals for exercise, and 45 per cent – the highest number in the UK – said that school meals need to be regulated as a matter of urgency.

While the majority of respondents said the individual is to blame for excess weight, when questioned about who is to blame for the UK’s obesity epidemic, more than half (59 per cent) said the blame lies with the food industry.

Dr Davina Deniszczyc, GP and Medical Director of Wellbeing at Nuffield Health, said, “If you are struggling financially, a cut price offer from a fast food outlet might seem like the best value option for your family and it is disappointing to see so many people falling for this myth.  There is clearly a huge amount of work to be done in Scotland to persuade people that the cheapest food can actually be the healthiest food.

“That people would rather be overweight than eat healthily also needs to be addressed, because the repercussions of children and young adults growing up within this mind-set will be a tragedy. That such high numbers are reporting childhood obesity as common in the areas they live means we are already playing catch up if we are to help these children and young adults avoid a lifetime of obesity and related ill health.”

Bethany Aitken,  Expert in Obesity Management at Nuffield Health Glasgow Hospital, said; ”People who are trapped in the rut that is obesity need to take a step back and really think about the food they are eating.   As a nation, if we continue in this way we are heading for not only an obese population of children and adults, but a chronically ill population.  The key to success is not just dieting, it is long-term lifestyle changes; we need to focus on changing the obsessive relationship that people have with food.

Eating more fruit and vegetables, cutting down on takeaways, or eating food in its natural state, rather than covered in rich sauces, will drastically reduce the amount of fat and sugar we eat. Increasing day-to-day activity; walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift; walking those short distances instead of taking the car; going for a walk around the block in the evening, will all contribute to a healthier lifestyle, and once adopted become much easier to maintain over time.”

 

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