Scotland’s sweet tooth culture putting health at risk

Almost one in five Scots drinks a fizzy drink every day (Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)
Almost one in five Scots drinks a fizzy drink every day (Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire)
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Scotland’s sweet tooth is putting the health of a generation at risk, according to a revealing new report by Cancer Research UK out today.

Scots are far more likely than those south of the Border to eat sweets and chocolates, with 39 per cent admitting to consuming confectionary at least once a day compared to 30 per cent of people in England.

The report, based on a YouGov survey, also found that Scots have a huge thirst for fizzy drinks with almost a fifth (18 per cent) consuming a sugary drink every day.

The findings, for Cancer Research UK’s Scale Down Cancer campaign in Scotland, are concerning because being overweight is the single biggest cause of preventable cancer after smoking, and is linked to thirteen types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic cancer.

And with around two-thirds of adults in Scotland and more than one quarter (28 per cent) of children, overweight or obese, with sugar and fat-loaded food a major cause, Cancer Research UK is calling on the Scottish Government to take swift action.

Foods on promotion account for around 40 per cent of all expenditure on food and drinks consumed at home. Restricting supermarket multi-buy discounts on foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt are among a range of measures that Cancer Research UK wants to see placed at the heart of the expected Scottish Government strategy to improve Scots’ diets.

Cancer Research UK cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld, who is based at the University of Stirling, said: “Scotland’s sweet tooth is a huge worry for the health of the nation.

“Sugar should form no more than five per cent of our diet but, on average, both adults and children in Scotland consume much more than this.

“Too much sugar in our diet can lead to weight gain – which is not just linked to cancer, but also the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and tooth decay.

“From our love for tablet to soor plooms, toffee to macaroons, we’re a nation famous for our confectionary.”

She added: “If left unchecked, obesity will lead to a rising tide in ill health, including cancers, and become a crippling burden on the NHS.

“The Scottish Government can and must do more to make it easier to shop healthily and serve up a better future for our young people.”

Fast food and ready meals also cause concern with more than half (52 per cent) of adults in Scotland having a ready meal once a week or more.