Scotland politics

Health chief Dr Harry Burns warns of ill Scotland

Alcohol - generic
Image caption Scotland has the eight highest alcohol consumption rate in the world

Obesity, poor diet and excessive drinking are still causing unacceptable levels of ill health in Scotland, its chief medical officer has warned.

Dr Harry Burns said Scotland continued to have worse problems than most of its European neighbours, and called for new thinking on tackling the issue.

He said deaths from Scotland's "big three" killers - cancer, heart disease and stroke - were continuing to fall.

The comments came as Dr Burns issued his annual report.

The chief medical officer said government action in recent years had cut problems like smoking-related illness, but warned action was still needed in other areas.

He pointed to figures from the Scottish Health Survey which indicated;

  • a quarter of Scots ate poorly
  • did not get enough exercise
  • drank too much
  • and were overweight

His report said: "Obesity, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption continue to be a cause of unacceptable levels of ill health which are inequitably distributed across society."

Dr Burns said evidence suggested Scotland had the eighth highest alcohol consumption rate in the world.

He also reported that the proportion of men who had reported their drinking exceeded the recommended daily limits rose from 43% to 45% between 2003 and 2010 and, for women, fell from 37% to 33%.

Dr Burns also said there had been a "steady increase" in the number of overweight or obese adults between 1995 and 2010, with numbers in the 16-64 age group increasing from 52.4% to 63.3%.

In 2010, he added, 22% of adults met the recommended daily intake of five or more portions of fruit and vegetables - a figure which had "not changed significantly over time".

However, he also said death rates from the big three among under-75s has fallen by 28% - from 507 per 100,000 people in 1995 to 365 per 100,000 in 2009.

And smoking rates among 16 to 65-year-olds fell from 35% in 1995 to 28% in 2010.

Dr Burns welcomed the figures, but warned: "Not all sections of society are benefiting at the same rate and, overall, Scotland continues to have a higher level of ill health than most of our immediate neighbours in Europe."

The chief medical officer called for a change in dealing with problems, suggesting people and communities could get more involved, taking responsibility for health improvement beyond what it offered by the NHS.

He also said: "Health promotion campaigns usually have a positive effect on some people, but often those in most need of changing their behaviour are least likely to take notice of such campaigns."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites