Leader: Beating obesity does not seem to be working
So in the last five years the number of times ambulance staff in the Lothians need to employ specialist hospital transport for obese patients has more than doubled.
It is just the latest reminder of the reality of the obesity epidemic. Last week it was revealed there were around 3500 children entering Primary 1 in Scotland whose weight gave rise to concern, an increase of almost 400 on the previous year.
We do not know how many of the obese patients that needed to go to hospital were primary school children, but it would be safe to say it was a pretty small proportion. The likelihood is that the age range of the people being taken to hospital is going to be at the other end of the spectrum. Obesity is not just a threat to our children and grandchildren but is hitting all generations.
And the health difficulties it brings tend to show themselves in middle and later life. So while school education programmes are vital, it is too late for many.
The increased cost of the hospital transport revealed today is of course a concern, but it is only a small part of the cost of obesity now, and that cost looks likely to increase.
One in four Scottish adults and almost one in five children is obese. It is described as the greatest public health threat to the nation.
So we know the scale of the problem, we know the cost of the problem, but how is it being tackled? On the Scottish Government’s website, you click on Topics, then Health and Social Care, then Healthy Living then on to Healthy Weight. It reveals that in February 2010, the Scottish Government launched a long-term obesity prevention strategy entitled Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland: A Route Map Towards Healthy Weight.
Laudable though this would appear, it would seem reasonable to ask what has been achieved to date?