Doctors want Scots pupils to get free fruit and vegetables

Doctors say a free portion of fruit or vegetables could help tackle Scotland's obesity crisis. Picture: TSPL
Doctors say a free portion of fruit or vegetables could help tackle Scotland's obesity crisis. Picture: TSPL
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Doctors say every primary school pupil in Scotland should be given a free daily portion of fruit or veg in a bid to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis.

The British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland is also calling for the Scottish Government to launch a crack down on junk food promotions by placing additional restrictions on sales encouraging the buying of unhealthy food.

Ministers are currently consulting on proposed measures to restrict advertising of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt. The most recent Scottish Health Survey found 65 per cent of adults in Scotland were overweight or obese, a figure largely unchanged since 2008.

BMA Scotland said the plan was a good starting point but needed to be strengthened and backed by regulation. The organisation is calling for an end to the sponsorship and marketing of unhealthy products at events aimed at children or in schools.

Doctors’ leaders want calorie information for food bought in shops and restaurants to be a requirement, and changes to planning policy to cut the number of fast-food outlets around schools.

Other proposals include providing a free portion of fruit or veg every day to primary school pupils and the setting up of specialist weight management units.

BMA Scotland chair Dr Peter Bennie said: “Almost every doctor working in the NHS today will be dealing with patients who are overweight or obese and who will often have additional health needs as a result.

“The additional demands on the NHS that this creates come at a time when the health service is already stretched like never before. We need substantive action to change people’s behaviour and address the problems caused by unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.”

He added: “The proposals that the Scottish Government has put forward are a good starting point, but the scale of the challenges posed by overweight and obesity means that we need to go further.”

Miles Briggs MSP, Shadow Health Secretary, said: “Obesity is truly a massive public health challenge with two thirds of Scottish adults now overweight, and a third of children, and physical activity levels are way too low among all ages. The Scottish Conservatives want to ensure that there is a cross-portfolio approach to tackling obesity involving education as well as health departments. Specifically, we support calls for there to be restrictions on price promotions on junk foods high in fat, sugar and salt.”