Scots children becoming more unhealthy - report

Scottish children consumed an average of just 2.7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, according to the report. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Scottish children consumed an average of just 2.7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, according to the report. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Concerns have been raised over the state of children’s health in Scotland after a raft of figures highlighted poor diet habits and youngsters being exposed to tobacco smoke at home.

Figures from the Scottish Health Survey 2012 showed that only 70 per cent of children aged two to 15 were active for the recommended 60 minutes or more a day - down from 71 per cent in 2008.

They also revealed that last year youngsters consumed an average of 2.7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day and just one in seven (13 per cent) consumed the recommended five or more portions a day.

The report said the proportion of children aged five to 15 meeting the 5-a-day target had not changed significantly since 2003, actually falling from 12 per cent to 11 per cent in 2012.

In 2012, two-thirds (67.5 per cent) of children aged two to 15 were said to be of a healthy weight, with little change in girls since 1998 and boys since 2003.

The 300-page report also revealed that one in five (19 per cent) of children under 16 were living in households where someone smokes within the home.

ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “These new figures show that tens of thousands of children in Scotland are breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke every day.

“It is vital that as much as possible is done to alert parents and carers to the dangers of SHS (second hand smoke) in the home and to give them advice about countering it.”

On the issue of children’s diet and weight, Dr Donald MacGregor, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “With the UK topping the table for the highest rate of childhood obesity in Western Europe, it’s disappointing to learn that this problem continues to grow, with the Scottish Health Survey showing there has been no significant health or lifestyle improvements for Scottish children over the last year.

“Unless we act now, these children will be at increased risk of a range of obesity related conditions such as diabetes, asthma and joint problems.”

The mammoth survey, which questioned more than 4,800 adults and almost 1,800 children, also revealed that a quarter of men and 18 per cent of women drank at harmful levels - more than the 21 units a week for men and more than 14 units for women).

A quarter of adults (25 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women) said they were a current cigarette smoker, with those aged 25 to 44 most likely to smoke at 29 per cent.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson urged Scots to do more to take control of their own health.

“Smoking and drinking levels have been declining over recent years, however, there is still much to do,” he said.

“Alcohol misuse costs Scotland £3.6 billion per year, which equates to £900 per adult in Scotland whether they drink or not.

“Smoking is the primary preventable cause of ill health and premature death and each year tobacco use is associated with over 13,000 deaths and 56,000 hospital admissions in Scotland.”


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