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BBC Scotland's health correspondent Samantha Poling
"Sir David says more effort must be made to eradicate the link between ill-health and poverty"
 real 56k

Sir David Carter
"There is no doubt that smoking lurks behind the problems"
 real 28k

Thursday, 17 August, 2000, 14:57 GMT 15:57 UK
Scots' mixed health report
Young drinker
The report says young people are drinking more
People in Scotland are becoming healthier but many young people are storing up problems relating to diet, smoking and depression.

The mixed messages are contained in the annual report by Scotland's chief medical officer, Professor Sir David Carter.

His final report before he retires in October says life expectancy in Scotland is going up.

Sir David also pointed to improvements being made in the areas of diet, stomach and bowel cancer, and heart disease.

Sir David's findings
Infant mortality is at its lowest
Young people are sexually active at a younger age
More girls are smoking
More youngsters exercise four or more hours a week
More youngsters drink alcohol at least once a week
3% of 15-year-olds suffer from depression
"The good news is that there have been improvements in a number of areas of health in Scotland, there has been a significant fall in premature deaths due to coronary heart disease and cancer and we have seen a major reduction in some of communicable diseases such as salmonella, which went down by 11% last year.

"One of the heartening things about this report is that we are seeing improvements in the level of activity among Scottish children and we are seeing an improvement in the kind of diet of the country's youngsters," said Sir David.

However, he warns that many problems are being stored up for the future by young people, including their smoking habits.

Major killers

Sir David said: "Smoking remains one of the major concerns - still a third of the population smokes.

"If you take our major killers, cancer, heart disease and stroke, which accounts for 60% of deaths in Scotland, we see that smoking is lurking behind them.

"If we could give up smoking, or better still not start in the first place then that would have such a profound impact on the county's health indices."

Sir David Carter
Sir David Carter: Final report
He said the Scottish Executive must do more to ensure there was a co-ordinated approach to promoting the health and well-being of children and their families.

"My report confirms - if confirmation is needed - that government must keep up the pressure in terms of education, prevention, and cessation measures over the coming year," said Sir David.

He said that although more young people are becoming sexually active at a younger age they are becoming more "responsible and thoughtful about their sexual behaviour".

"They are attending advisory clinics for help and support, and voicing regret at becoming sexually active at an early age," added Sir David.

Cigarette lighter
A third of Scots smoke
Sir David said it was essential to improve the health of babies, promote healthier diets, reduce smoking and alcohol misuse and encourage more physical activity.

He also pointed to the inequalities that exist in the health of the most deprived in Scotland's communities compared with the better off.

Tackling and reducing those inequalities, Sir David maintains, will make a significant impact on Scotland's overall health record.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman, Nora Radcliffe MSP, said Sir David's report raised "serious concerns".

"Although the report states that people in Scotland are living longer and suffering less from diseases associated with the heart, there are still some very serious problems associated with diet, lack of exercise and smoking.

"The report has shown that there is still a great inequality of health between the different areas of Scotland, with people in deprived areas suffering from more serious health problems. Tackling this inequality should be a top priority for the NHS in Scotland," she said.

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