Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland: A Route Map Towards Healthy Weight

Scotland's obesity strategy.


8.1 Alongside the preventative actions we have identified in the four broad categories above, we will take action to ensure that we raise awareness of the real threat of obesity, measure our progress and learn from our actions and support further research to continue to manage obesity prevention appropriately.

Raising awareness amongst decision-makers:

  • We will promote a range of preventative actions by creating awareness and understanding amongst decision-makers in the public sector and business leaders about the severity and consequences of the obesity epidemic and the need to take ambitious and wide-ranging action beyond the health sector.
  • To achieve this we will pursue a communications strategy amongst key groups to facilitate their understanding of their own role in meeting this challenge.

Changing public attitudes:

  • We will underpin our range of preventative actions with investment in a public communications strategy to increase public understanding of why tackling obesity matters, that it is a serious health risk not a value judgement on character or appearance.
  • As social norms have changed, we have become less able to judge on sight whether someone is overweight or obese, so we also need to re-establish our understanding of what unhealthy weight looks like.
  • Communications will have two important purposes - to provide motivation for individuals to make changes in their own lives and to create wider understanding of the need for obesity prevention and acceptance of the kind of significant environmental and cultural changes and persuasive measures that may be needed to change personal behaviour. In this respect obesity policy can learn from communications under the Greener strategic outcome.
  • Our public communications strategy will need to be empowering and enable change, and should not be alarmist, perpetuate stigma or exacerbate poor mental wellbeing associated with body image. In this regard we will work with the Scottish media partners in Scotland to address the sensationalist approach to obesity reporting.

Supporting local delivery:

  • NHS Health Scotland are developing a healthy weight outcomes framework as a resource to support local partners in the development of Single Outcome Agreements. This will be aligned with the recommendations for action set out in Section 6 above and help community planning partners identify how their activities will contribute to the short, medium and long term outcomes needed to realise the aims of this Route Map.

Tracking progress and filling the evidence gaps:

We will develop an integrated strategy for research in obesity and establish a monitoring and evaluation framework to:

  • Bring together the research and decision making communities to facilitate the rapid translation of policy imperatives into research and research findings into delivery and outcomes
  • Take account of emerging international evidence
  • Track the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of our preventative actions
  • Identify any unintended outcomes or displacement effects (including on health inequalities)
  • Understand better the relative contributions, costs and benefits of actions in diverse policy areas
  • Consider any necessary amendments or adjustments to our priorities
  • Build further the evidence base for effective interventions to tackle obesity in Scotland.

Data and monitoring:

  • We will ensure the collection of high quality public health data to allow us to track the success of our interventions and progress against our current and any new national target. This will also ensure that we can monitor and address inequalities.
  • We will look at how BMI measurement in school age children might better support delivery of our policies to tackle childhood overweight and obesity.
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