We failed to spot 150k obese Scots, admits Robison

SCOTLAND’S obesity crisis is worse than previously thought, after it emerged the Scottish Government had published the wrong figures.

A clerical error resulted in obesity rates being under-reported. Picture: PA

• Error sees obesity numbers in women under-reported by 4.1%

• Proportion of obese men revised up from 26% to 27.7%

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Sports minister Shona Robison admitted a clerical error meant people classed as morbidly obese had been missed off official tables for 2011.

It takes the proportion of obese men aged over 16 from 26 per cent to 27.7 per cent. For women over 16, the figure changes from 23.5 per cent to 27.6 per cent.

It means there are more than 100,000 women and nearly 50,000 men classed as morbidly obese who will now be added to the official figures.

Ms Robison, in answer to a written parliamentary question, acknowledged the mistake and apologised for any “inconvenience” caused to parliament.

The government error came as it emerged that obesity-linked deaths had risen by almost a fifth in just five years. There has been a 17 per cent increase in the number of times that obesity has been officially designated as the cause of death.

Tory health spokesman Jackson Carlaw warned Scotland’s high level of obesity was placing the NHS under financial strain.

He said: “We thought these figures were bad enough when they were first published, so for the situation to worsen is extremely concerning.

“With 4 per cent of women over 16 missed off these statistics, as well as nearly 2 per cent of men, we are talking a difference of tens of thousands of people. I’m pleased Ms Robison has moved to correct this error publicly, because it’s essential we know the true picture.

“There is only so much the NHS can do when it comes to battling the bulge, and we need people to take responsibility for their own weight.

“If they don’t, not only will they be causing problems for an overstretched NHS in the future, but they will be making problems for themselves for a lifetime.”

More than £7.5 million was spent dispensing 213,000 anti-obesity drugs to Scots between 2010 and 2013, figures showed last month. However, the amount spent on the drugs fell year on year, from £3.4m in 2010-11 to £2.7m in 2011-12 and £1.5m last year.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “These are publicly available figures, taken from the Scottish Health Survey.

“We recognise that obesity is a serious issue across Scotland and are taking concerted action to make our national diet healthier and help reduce Scotland’s high levels of preventable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

“There is, however, no simple solution. That is why we are leading a range of activities to makes it easier for people to be more active, to eat less and to eat better. This includes working with producers and retailers to promote healthy food options, increasing opportunities for people to become more physically active, encouraging young people to adopt healthy habits and employers to offer healthy choices to staff.”