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Professor Sir Michael Marmot
"The lower you are in terms of social distribution the greater risks you face in terms of heart disease"
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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 08:40 GMT
Scotland to get a 'fat controller'
Fried breakfast
Many Scots eat too much fatty food
A food czar is to be appointed to improve the diet and health of Scottish people.

A survey by the Scottish Executive, which was due to be published on Monday, showed that obesity is a growing problem, that Scots still do not exercise enough and that young people are storing up trouble for the future.

However, the survey also offered encouraging evidence that the nation may at last be listening to the warnings about the link between lifestyle and good health.

The diet action co-ordinator will be responsible for running a campaign to challenge the drinking, smoking, and deep fried culture.

A czar alone cannot deliver these changes - it needs co-ordinated action across health, education and housing policies

SNP health spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon
The research, which included 13,000 Scots, found that almost a quarter of men and women suffer from some form of heart problems.

The latest study into the state of Scotland's health supports the view that cigarettes, alcohol, obesity and inactivity are the key factors behind this appalling record.

Of the 24% who suffer from some form of cardiovascular disorder, about a third were smokers and physically inactive while almost three quarters were either overweight or obese.

A third of the men with heart problems also drink to excess.

Exercise question

Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who headed the inquiry, said: "Taking the issue of obesity and exercise, it is not enough to say to people you must do more exercise.

"There is also the whole question about where that fits in to people's lives.

"Are there sports facilities available, is it safe for people to ride bikes and so on?

"The same relates to eating patterns and you have to see how you can make it easier for people to have healthier eating patterns."

Woman smoking
Smoking is also a factor
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said: "The state of the nation's health as revealed in the survey is in line with everything we have said is a priority for us and gives us a really accurate picture to work from."

She said the diet co-ordinator would look at how nutritional issues apply to Scots and work to alert people to the dangers of certain lifestyles.

"We are also going to appoint a physical activity taskforce to help people become more active."

Scottish National Party health spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon said: "The SNP welcome all initiatives which focus attention on Scotland's health problems, which are among the worst in Europe.

"But Labour's response to every issue is to create yet another czar - it seems to be a czar a day from New Labour.

Resources call

"What the SNP propose is a comprehensive strategy which enables people to lead healthier lives in healthy communities, including ensuring that people from deprived backgrounds can afford to live a healthy life.

"A czar alone cannot deliver these changes - it needs co-ordinated action across health, education and housing policies, back up by real resources."

Figures published last week by the British Heart Foundation suggest that four people in Scotland die every hour from heart disease.

Overall, the disease is the biggest killer in Britain, with someone suffering a heart attack every two minutes.

A BHF study found that stress is also a factor since it leads people to smoke, drink and eat unhealthy "comfort foods".

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See also:

21 Nov 00 | Scotland
Glasgow 'heart disease leader'
20 Jan 00 | Health
Mondays 'bring heart attacks'
17 Aug 00 | Scotland
Scots' mixed health report
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