We believe that if we are to fulfil our purpose of creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth we must work differently if we are to tackle some of the most complex and intractable problems that face us. Obesity is one of the problems that, like climate change, does not have a simple solution and requires a new way of thinking. If we successfully tackle obesity then we will reduce ill-health which will in turn contribute to sustainable economic growth. As a new Administration we recognised that our institutional structures could inhibit the development of comprehensive policy required to tackle issues like obesity, therefore one of our first actions was to reorganise the Scottish Government to align it more closely with our strategic objectives and to promote closer working across policy areas.
The problem of obesity has been a long time in the making and we cannot expect to solve it quickly. Yet the fact that we have to solve it is clear if we are to retain the gains we have made in reducing mortality from chronic disease as well as limit the cost associated with treating the consequences of obesity. We are also committed to focussing our efforts on those who are most disadvantaged as we endeavour to reduce health inequalities.
For the first time we are publishing jointly the actions we are taking on diet and physical activity over the next three years. We see greater opportunity in making linkages stronger and more relevant, not just within this plan but across wider Government activity. The actions identified in this plan on diet and physical activity build on the good work that has gone before but we have reinforced our drive in some key areas.
Over the next three years we will spend over £56m, of which £40m is new money, on diet, physical activity and promoting healthy weight.
We are devoting nearly half of our new resources, over £19m, to the early years. We want to strengthen our efforts to target women who are of a child bearing age, pregnant mothers and preschool children, to improve their nutrition as the evidence suggests that this is the best time to act if we are to make the most significant impact.
We are doubling the expenditure on promoting physical activity to £12m. This has allowed us to double the support for Paths to Health which already has 20,000 people participating in volunteer led walks on a weekly basis.
For the first time we are devoting nearly £15m to programmes of activity to support people achieve and maintain a healthy weight. NHS Health Boards have already received the first instalment of £6m to support the introduction of a child healthy weight intervention which we expect to target 20,000 children over the next three years.
We are also supporting the roll out of Counterweight across Scotland from 2008.
Finally, we are working closely with COSLA and other partners to develop a community based healthy weight intervention that ties together much of this work in targeted areas.
We recognise that this plan in itself will not solve the obesity problem that this country faces, nor will the new structures alone deliver change. We want to engage with our key partners over the next few months to agree how we use our new way of working to tackle obesity. Therefore, for the first time we are committing the Government to the development of a longer term strategy to tackle obesity. We believe that the steps we have made, in reshaping the organisational structure of Government around our single purpose and 5 strategic objectives will provide a framework in which we can develop solutions across Government and the public sector to tackle obesity.
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing
Minister for Public Health
Minister for Communities and Sport