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SCOTLAND'S obesity epidemic claims an average of nine lives every day.

Shocking figures show nearly 3400 Scots die each year as a result of being dangerously overweight.

Scotland is now the second fattest nation in the world behind the US and government figures show obesity costs us almost pounds 500million a year.

But with weight gain expected to soar, the problem is a ticking timebomb with the annual spend predicted to top pounds 3billion within 20 years.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: "Scotland is in the grip of an obesity epidemic.

"We estimate that nearly 3400 people die as a direct result of obesity every year and this is set to increase.

"It is shocking to realise that all of this is preventable and with small steps people can begin to control their weight.

"We need to take action now before it is too late."

A Scottish government report, published tomorrow, will set out the scale of the obesity epidemic and the problem factors that contribute to obesity.

It will also outline a strategy to tackle the problem.

The government estimate that obesity currently costs Scotland pounds 457million a year.

The direct costs to the NHS is pounds 175million - swallowing up two per cent of the entire NHS budget.

This includes pounds 48million on treating and tackling type 2 diabetes - which is linked to excess body fat - pounds 38million on hypertension and pounds 4.5million on obesity drugs.

It costs the NHS another pounds 4.4million to provide specialist medical equipment for the morbidly obese.

Indirect costs, such as sickness absence, are estimated to be pounds 282million.

Sturgeon added: "The NHS is currently spending over pounds 175million every year treating obese people.

"In today's economy every penny counts and this money could make a vital difference to other areas of the health service.

"We are committed to tackling this problem head-on and next week will see the launch of the Scottish government's new strategy to prevent obesity.

"This is not simply a health issue, nor can we expect individuals to change behaviour entirely on their own.

"The solution lies in changing our entire environment from one that promotes weight gain to one that supports healthy choices."

The document - Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland: A Route Map Towards Healthy Weight - warns that if things do not change then cases of obesity will double by 2030.

This will mean that nearly four in every 10 Scots will be classed as obese.

This could see the cost to society soar up to pounds 3billion a year.

By 2030, it is estimated that treating obesity will cost the NHS more than pounds 500million.

Public health minister Shona Robison will launch the government's obesity strategy tomorrow during a visit to St Mark's Primary School in Barrhead, Renfrewshire.

Latest figures show one in five children aged 12 and almost one in four adults are clinically obese.

In November, the Sunday Mail revealed how prescriptions have soared in the past five years as more people pile on the flab.

GPs last year wrote more than 110,000 prescriptions for the dangerously overweight.


Warning: Nicola Sturgeon Worry: Obesity levels are rising
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 21, 2010
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