Local MSP Maree Todd SNP has hosted the annual reception at the Scottish Parliament for Cancer Research UK. The cross party event focused on cancer prevention, and in particular tackling obesity – the second biggest cause of preventable cancer after smoking.
Speakers included MSP Maree Todd; the minister for Public Health, Aileen Campbell; Cancer Research UK chair of Prevention Prof Linda Bauld; and Susan Shaw representing Scottish Slimmers.
Scotland has one of the heaviest populations in Europe, with around two-thirds (65%) of adults in Scotland and more than one quarter (28%) of children, overweight or obese.
Given that obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, it is important that action is taken to tackle Scotland’s obesity challenges
Maree Todd used her opening speech at the Cancer Research UK reception to talk about Kirsty, the fictional Holyrood baby. The Kirsty campaign was launched last year by the Holyrood Magazine, as the parliament began its fifth session.
Commenting, Maree Todd MSP said;
“Having started my life as a parliamentarian when Kirsty was born, I’m keenly interested in her progress and the impact of policy change on her life chances.”
“Kirsty faces an uphill struggle and poor prospects, having been born into one of Scotland’s most deprived communities. We know that people on lower incomes or who live in poorer areas are more likely to be overweight or obese. In fact, Kirsty is two times more likely to be obese by the time she reaches primary one as kids from affluent areas.”
“Scotland has often led the way on the prevention agenda, pioneering the smoking ban and minimum unit pricing of alcohol, we need to take the same comprehensive approach to obesity, and tackle the quality of food we eat.”
“As Kirsty nears her first birthday, this is a good chance to reflect on how every choice, priority and piece of legislation made by MSPs will have a direct impact on Kirsty and her life chances.”
“Obesity remains a real challenge facing Scotland and we will need a bold and coherent strategy if we are to successfully address it.”
Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Prevention Champion said:
“Levels of people who are overweight or obese in Scotland are the worst in the UK and our shopping habits are at the heart of the problem.”
“We know that sugary drinks and snacks are more likely to be discounted than healthier foods and our survey shows people are being attracted by these promotions, something which is setting them up for a lifetime of ill-health.”
“We need urgent action on obesity now to prevent thousands of cancers in the future, and we’re thankful to Maree for hosting us at the Scottish Parliament to raise this issue.”
Cancer Research UK wants to see a comprehensive strategy for tackling obesity in Scotland, including measures that focus on tackling the wider factors that lead to the overconsumption of unhealthy foods – such as restricting the advertising of unhealthy food to children and curbing multi-buy discounts. The event helped to publicise Cancer Research UK’s Scale Down Cancer campaign.