A healthier future - action and ambitions on diet, activity, and healthy weight: consultation

An open consultation on the proposals for improving diet and weight in Scotland. Responses will be used to inform the development of the final strategy.

3. Leadership and Exemplary Practice

3.1 There is already broad consensus that more needs to be done in Scotland to tackle obesity and the associated inequalities. The cost of obesity and poor health – human, societal and economic – are unsustainable; but with the right action they are largely preventable.

3.2 We need to create a whole nation approach that improves Scotland's weight and diet and gets us more active. This will demand strong leadership and broad commitment, as well as ambitious and progressive action right across the system. We will need to build the will and momentum, at national and local levels, to support and implement bold policies. These are vital if we are to increase the scale and pace of change, and achieve long-term gains at population level.

Public sector leadership

3.3 For the public sector, and the communities they serve, we see new opportunities emerging for effective leadership through Community Planning Partnerships and Integration Authorities. During 2019, these local arrangements will be further supported by the establishment of a new national public body with specific responsibility for the public's health. Further support will also be sourced through related joint working with other expert organisations – for example Food Standards Scotland and Obesity Action Scotland. The new national priorities for public health, due to be published in early 2018, will help to generate wide discussion and action.

Food & drink industry leadership

3.4 Equally we now need industry – including manufacturers, retailers and caterers – to show leadership and commitment. The food and drink industry is extremely important to Scotland's economy and we welcome Scotland Food & Drink's strategy for growth, Ambition 2030, and its commitment to health and wellbeing. In translating this into action, we would ask industry to see the re-balancing of food towards healthier options – whether people eat at home, eat out, or eat on the go – as a key measure of success. This connects with our aspiration that Scotland is a Good Food Nation, where people from every walk of life take pride, pleasure, and benefit from, the food they buy, serve, and eat day by day.

3.5 This, along with wider policy such as the UKG soft drinks levy and reformulation programmes, and changing consumer preference, reflects the direction of travel we want to see. Taken together, these are leading to growing demand for healthier products which, over time, will create important new market opportunities. This is a challenging agenda, particularly for Scotland's small and medium-sized enterprises, and we therefore want to work constructively with industry in developing our respective plans, and to support it effectively.

Leading by example

3.6 An important part of the leadership role is leading by example. Whether as individuals, employers, service providers or purchasers of goods and services, there are many different ways in which the public, private and voluntary sectors can do this. The Scottish Government is developing plans for promoting the health and wellbeing of its workforce, but every employer in Scotland has an interest in this as a key means of improving recruitment, retention and productivity. Moreover, evidence shows that those who have important roles in caring for people and influencing their behaviours can do this more effectively when they are fit and well.

3.7 Elsewhere in the public sector we have had some success in making it easier for people to buy and eat more healthily. Schools must now meet statutory regulations for all food and drink they provide and the Healthyliving Award and Healthcare Retail Standard have transformed catering and retail outlets across the NHS.

3.8 However, there is scope for all of us – across the public, private and voluntary sectors – to do a lot more. The challenge is making change systematic and spreading the benefits to the entire population.

3.9 We will invite and support a select number of local government and health leaders to enhance and share their improvement work on weight and diet in their areas, harnessing the widest range of public, private and voluntary sector partners. In particular we will support work to improve the local environment in our most vulnerable communities.

3.10 We will develop plans to further support the health and wellbeing of Scottish Government staff, being an exemplar and encouraging others in the private, public and voluntary sectors – particularly the NHS – to commit to action.

3.11 We will ensure that health and environmental sustainability are key considerations in public procurement of food.

3.12 We will expand the Healthyliving Award to publically funded catering locations which do not currently offer customers a mark of health.

3.13 We will also explore opportunities to extend relevant Healthcare Retail Standard criteria beyond the NHS to other retail settings operating in publicly funded locations.

3.14 We will renew our commitment to the community food initiatives that make healthy, affordable food more accessible and equip people, particularly in deprived communities, with the knowledge and skills they need to prepare healthy meals.

Question 11

What do you think about the action we propose for making obesity a priority for everyone?

Question 12

How can we build a whole nation movement?

Evidence-based improvement

3.15 Consistent with the approach taken so far, we are committed to policy and action which is grounded in the evidence. This means we will continue to:

  • evaluate our actions and be prepared to change our approach using, for example, improvement methodology and 'small tests of change';
  • monitor the extent of the problem and the impact of our actions through established approaches such as the Scottish Health Survey;
  • monitor and collaborate on the most up to date evidence base through the Scottish Food and Drink Research, Evidence and Evaluation Collaborative [18] ; and
  • make the research and evidence base widely available to inform policy and practice across Scotland.

3.16 We will put in place a robust monitoring and evaluation programme to inform the development and measure the impact of new proposals.

3.17 We will host a biennial international conference to measure progress and share good practice.

Question 13

What further steps, if any, should be taken to monitor change?

Question 14

Do you have any other comments about any of the issues raised in this consultation?


Suzanne Connolly DietPolicy@gov.scot

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