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

Scotland's obesity strategy.


Direct contributions to tackling obesity

Healthy Eating, Active Living focused on work lead by Health Directorates and funded by Health budgets to tackle obesity. The policies below (except for SCSP) are funded and address obesity as their primary function.

  • Eight communities across Scotland will be taking part in the Healthy Weight Communities programme. The objective of these pathfinders is to demonstrate the ways in which gathering together diverse projects, under the shared purpose of tackling obesity, may have a greater impact on health outcomes than dispersed activity. There are also seven Smarter Choices Smarter Places active travel demonstration towns across Scotland. This partnership project between the Scottish Government and COSLA aims to increase active travel and public transport use through a range of educational and structural measures.
  • HEAT (health improvement, efficiency, access, treatment) H3 and Counterweight - The H3 Target is to achieve agreed completion rates for child healthy weight intervention programme by 2010/11. Counterweight is an evidence-based approach to managing weight in primary care that helps obese patients achieve a healthier lifestyle and lose weight.
  • The Take Life On national social marketing campaign aims to tackle unhealthy weight, prevent long term illness such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, and make people feel more positive about themselves, by motivating behaviour change in healthy eating, physical activity and alcohol moderation habits.

Let's Make Scotland More Active and its programme of implementation initiatives remain essential means of influencing Scotland's inactive population. Of particular relevance here is the restatement of the need to create and make accessible environments that encourage people to be more active in everyday life.

Recipe for Success: Scotland's National Food and Drink Policy is a major step forward in ensuring that for the first time public health issues will be considered alongside those of the needs of business as well as the impact on the environment when developing policy on food and drink. The Government recognises the need to continue to grow the food and drink industry in support of our overall aim, however, it is important that we have the means and capability to understand the impact of our actions on the nation's health as well as the impact on the environment. The National Food and Drink Policy places us in a position to consider these issues in a coherent and effective way and will enhance our potential to achieve a Healthier Scotland.

Indirect contributions to tackling obesity

There is a wide range of activity across Government and national agencies contributing to this goal, even if in some cases addressing obesity is not the primary purpose of the work.


  • The CommonHealth Games Legacy Programme aims to encourage people to improve their health by motivating and inspiring people of all ages and abilities to become more physically active in the run up to the 2014 Games and beyond.
  • CEL 36 (2008) identified investment to improve the nutrition of women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children under 5 in disadvantaged areas. The funding also supports activity to improve breastfeeding rates in Scotland.


A range of work is being undertaken to promote the use of outdoor and green spaces for physical activities including recreation and active travel:

  • We are currently consulting on the draft Cycling Action Plan for Scotland and its vision that by 2020 we will have created communities where people of all ages and abilities can cycle safely and comfortably with access to information, materials and incentives to make day to day cycling a realistic choice to achieve a target of 10% modal share for cycling.
  • The Climate Challenge Fund (£27.4m over 2008-11) is to enable communities to come forward with their own solutions to make a significant reduction in carbon emissions. Eligible projects to cut energy use include those which encourage or support physical activity, for example by walking and cycling more, becoming involved in community gardens and woodlands or the development of other indoor and outdoor community spaces. Healthy eating is indirectly supported through projects encouraging local food production.
  • The Scottish Government Go-Greener Campaign ( ) aims to encourage and support individuals to make environmentally-responsible behaviours and choices in their every day lives. The campaign promotes more sustainable travel options, including walking and cycling as modes that can reduce environmental impacts as well as contribution to health and wellbeing. The campaign's work on food waste supports the healthy eating agenda indirectly, by encouraging the greater uptake of unpackaged, local and seasonal food.
  • As well as the work on access, we are also helping more people to be active in the outdoors by targeting support to increase the capacity of environmental volunteer managers.
  • We are working with partners including local authorities, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, to help more people enjoy the outdoors and improve opportunities for outdoor recreation and education. A great deal has been done to make it easier to access the countryside, including through the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, which requires access authorities to provide a system of core paths in their areas, and promotion of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Our national indicator to increase the proportion of adults making one or more visits to the outdoors per week increased by 3% in 2008 to 47% of the population.


In many ways Scotland's schools have led the way in building cross-sectional healthy promotion in to the foundations of policy and delivery. These changes are an important step towards making healthy choices a default part of everyday life for school-aged children.

  • The Early Years Framework signals national and local government's joint commitment to break the cycle of inequalities in education, health and employment being passed from one generation to another through prevention and early intervention, and give every child in Scotland the best start in life.
  • The Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 places health promotion at the heart of schools' activities and makes this a criterion for inspection. This legislation ensures that food and drink served in schools meets nutritional requirements as set out by Scottish Ministers in the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2008 and ensures that Local Authorities promote the uptake and benefits of school meals.
  • Free School Meals entitlement has been extended to all primary school and secondary school pupils whose parents or carers are in receipt of both maximum Child Tax Credit and maximum Working Tax Credit from August 2009, which will benefit approximately 44,000 pupils. Also local authorities will provide free school meals to all P1-P3 pupils from August 2010 and this will benefit approximately 118,000 pupils.
  • The new Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes for health and wellbeing highlight the need for children and young people to understand the value of being active and eating healthily. Curriculum for Excellence also makes it the responsibility of all staff to develop, reinforce and extend learning in health and wellbeing across all of school life.
  • Since 2004 the Government has invested in developing Active Schools throughout every local authority. This programme is making significant progress in delivering a wide range of new sport and physical activities in and around the school day, and is making a considerable impact on participation rates. The SNP Government has a manifesto commitment to help Scottish schoolchildren develop the habit of physical fitness by ensuring that every pupil has 2 hours of quality PE each week delivered by specialist PE teachers.

Safer and stronger

Our land-use planning system offers one of the most important opportunities for shaping our living environments to make active living easier, safer and more appealing.

  • Scottish Planning Policy on placemaking and open space and physical activity, including SPP Designing Streets which promotes a best practice approach that can deliver the infrastructure necessary to achieve places that build safety and active lifestyles into Scottish communities.
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