MARY Brown mentions (Letters, 24 November) Phil Hanlon’s proposals for a healthier Scotland. But the reason for our poor health is geography. The weather here is slightly colder, windier, wetter and less sunny than other parts of the UK.
This combination is taxing for the human frame. As a reaction to this the individual can either move to a more hospitable climate, as many Scots have done in the past; adopt a disciplined regime of vigorous exercise in the fresh air; live in a well ventilated and heated home; and have a good diet based on fresh, local food: or seek solace in addictions to habits which have a long-term bad effect on health – such as the use of alcohol, nicotine, drugs, overeating, and keeping indoors.
One simple example makes this obvious. In cold climates it is more difficult to gain all the energy required from carbohydrates which have less than half the calorific value of fats. Therefore the colder the climate the greater proportion of fat eaten: in Greenland about half, in Scotland one third, in France one seventh and in Java one 12th. The bad effect of saturated fat is known, as is the benefits of unsaturated fat which comes from mackerel, herring, trout and salmon, once, but no longer, staples of the Scottish diet.
Scotland is a particular environment and requires specific types of clothing, housing, diet and recreation. What it has is some poverty, much inequality, pollution, old infrastructure and, possibly, consequent genetic susceptibility, and we wonder why we are sometimes ill.
Iain WD Forde