Number of Scots dying from obesity soaring

Nearly a quarter of Scots women are obese. Picture: PA
Nearly a quarter of Scots women are obese. Picture: PA
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THE number of Scots dying from obesity is soaring, according to new figures.

There has been a 17 per cent rise in the number of times that obesity has been officially designated as the cause of death over a five-year period, an official report shows.

The newly published Scottish Government statistics show that obesity was mentioned on the death certificates of 212 people in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available.

That compared with the 181 times that obesity was recorded as a contributory factory to a person’s death in 2007. The increase was outlined in a set of statistics released yesterday, which also showed that the proportion of obese male toddlers rose from 10 per cent to more than 16 per cent.

Reacting to the figures, which were published by the Scottish Government in response to a Scottish Tory parliamentary question, Professor Mike Lean said that obesity deaths were massively under-reported.

Prof Lean, the head of human nutrition at Glasgow University, said: “The number of death certificates that should record obesity should actually be thousands and thousands, but nobody really records it on death certificates.

“I believe many doctors regard it as being too delicate to mention and don’t like to point out the obvious. Obesity is probably responsible for about half the deaths in the country to one degree or another.” On the rise in obesity amongst male toddlers, he said: “It is concerning, but in most cases it disappears before they become teenagers. Nevertheless, the fact that there are more in that category means that it would be sensible to be concerned about this.”

The figures also showed that 41 per cent of male adults in Scotland are considered overweight, more than half of whom are obese. In females, 32 per cent are overweight, with a total of 23.5 per cent obese.

Jackson Carlaw, the Conservative health spokesman who tabled the questions, said: “The NHS and the Scottish Government have to take this on, but ultimately it is up to individuals and parents to assume some personal responsibility.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman pointed out that action had been taken in Scotland to promote healthy eating, but added: “Too many children in Scotland are still overweight.”