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Why is this National Indicator important?
Maintaining a healthy weight during childhood is important for both physical health and mental wellbeing. While this indicator encompasses both underweight and overweight, currently the wider public health challenge relates to rising levels of obesity and overweight children in Scotland. Being overweight or obese during childhood is a health concern in itself, but when it continues into adulthood it can lead to physical and mental health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, increased risk of certain cancers, low self-esteem and depression.
What will influence this National Indicator?
Obesity develops when calorie intake exceeds energy expenditure. However, this simple picture is affected by a range of complex social and environmental factors that strongly influence individual choices. These include, for example: marketing of energy-dense and high salt foods to children; increases in sedentary behaviour and associated snacking; creation of environments that are safe for walking and play; access to active travel options; and health-promoting schools that support physical activity and healthy eating both within and outwith the curriculum.
What is the Government's role?
To manage childhood obesity, we need to help children increase their physical activity (and consequently their energy expenditure) while reducing their calorie intake. Tackling the environmental, social and behavioural influences, including the family context, is an important part of this. The Scottish Government and COSLA published the Prevention of Obesity Route Map in February 2010. The Route map makes a long-term commitment (over 20 years) to tackling overweight and obesity, to help achieve a healthier Scotland and contribute towards sustainable economic growth. The Route Map Action Plan sets out actions for stakeholders across Scottish society, including key roles for Community Planning Partnerships working in collaboration with the NHS and other stakeholders.
Additionally a HEAT target has been set for NHS Boards to develop child healthy weight interventions tailored to local needs to support families whose children are struggling with their weight and want to take action. Over 8,000 interventions were delivered during 2008-11, with a new target for a further 14,910 interventions set for delivery by March 2014. Additionally the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) Guideline 115 (2010) provides guidelines for clinical staff on the management of obesity in children and adults.
How are we performing?
In 2010, 32.5% of children were outwith the healthy weight range. This figure increased slightly from 29.7% in 1998 to 33.6% in 2008, then dropped to 30.5% in 2009 before increasing again to 32.5% in 2010. None of the changes has been statistically significant since 1998.
The rate of increase slowed from an average of 1.7% per annum between 1998 and 2003 to an average of 0.8% per annum between 2003 and 2008, dropped sharply between 2008 and 2009 to -9.2%, and then increased to 6.6% between 2009 and 2010.
The data for this indicator has shown greater fluctuations in the rate of annual increase since the move to annual measurement from 2008 onwards. These annual fluctuations may have occurred between earlier survey years but aren't visible as the survey was run less frequently at that time. The sharp decline in the figure for boys between 2008 and 2009 was noted as unusual and caution was advised in interpreting trends based on single year results. The 2010 figure suggests that there is considerable year-on-year fluctuation and therefore care should be taken when interpreting results based on a single year with more focus being placed on the longer-term trend.
Source: Scottish Health Survey
View data on Child BMI
If the latest annual percentage change is more than 0.5 percentage point higher than the previous year's annual percentage change the arrow will be "performance worsening". If the latest annual percentage change is more than 0.5 percentage point lower than the previous year's annual percentage change the arrow will be "performance improving". If the latest annual percentage change is within 0.5 percentage point of the previous year's annual percentage change, the arrow will be "performance maintaining". The threshold of 0.5 percentage point chosen is based on an assessment of the data available at this time, and may need to be reviewed as more information becomes available in the future.
For information on general methodological approach, please click h.ere.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Statistics Topic Page
Who are our partners?
Related Strategic Objectives
Wealthier and Fairer