Scotland politics

Obesity costs Scotland up to £4bn, says parliament report

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Image caption The government has described obesity as one of Scotland's next big health challenges

Obesity could be costing Scotland up to £4.6bn a year, according to a new report.

The figure came in a Scottish Parliament briefing which said the problem was putting a "significant and growing burden" on the nation.

According to 2013 figures, almost two thirds of adults were overweight, with 27.1% classed as being obese.

The government launched a strategy in 2010 to tackle Scotland's "obesity time bomb".

The new report, produced by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice), said the problem could be costing the NHS as much as £600m a year.

It said that, including other factors, the total annual economic cost could be between £0.9bn and £4.6bn.

Early death

The report stated: "Although the estimates vary, the key message is that overweight and obesity together place a significant and growing burden on NHS Scotland and the Scottish economy as a whole."

The estimated cost was based on research by the McKinsey Global Institute, which last year put the global economic impact of obesity at £1.3tn, with the cost to the UK estimated at the equivalent of 3% of GDP.

The parliament report said that, taking into account the loss of productivity due to people dying early or suffering health problems because of their weight and adjusting the figures pro rata to Scotland's population size, the £4.6bn figure was reached.

The Scottish government, which has previously described obesity as one of the nation's "next big health challenges" announced plans to work with the food industry, business and schools as part of its strategy to tackle the problem.

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