Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced six million pounds of funding to tackle childhood obesity across Scotland.
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board will benefit from £400,000 this year to introduce new family-focused treatment programmes for overweight and obese children aged between 5 and 15.
Designed to engage children in practical and educational sessions, the programmes will promote healthy eating and physical activity and address the psychological, social and behavioural causes of weight gain.
The Health Secretary made the commitment at an international summit on health inequalities being hosted in Edinburgh.
The funding will help at least 20,000 overweight and obese children in Scotland and forms a key part of the Scottish Government’s agenda for tackling health inequalities.
Ms Sturgeon said: “While the growing problem of obesity - and in particular childhood obesity - is affecting all sectors of society more and more, we know that the health impacts can be a particular problem in deprived areas.
“Chronic health conditions associated with obesity such as coronary heart disease are more prevalent in deprived communities. Yet it is those who are living in less affluent areas who are more likely to find it difficult to access affordable healthy foods and have opportunities to be active.
“This funding I am announcing today will directly benefit overweight children in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and is an extremely important addition to the actions we are already taking to tackle health inequalities, such as free school meals, raising the age of cigarette sales to 18 and expanding the Keep Well programme.
“It is just one of the examples I will be demonstrating today of the work we are doing here in Scotland to tackle inequalities and improve the health and wellbeing of Scots.”
Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said:
“Obesity is a significant health problem in our society and one in five P7 children in Scotland are now classed as obese.
“This is why it has been so important for us to work closely with different partners to help families and young people understand what is a healthy diet and to make it as easy as possible for them to eat well through healthy school meals, free fruit in schools and healthy breakfast clubs.
“We also need to encourage children to exercise more through local leisure facilities, school activities and by walking and cycling as part of normal life.
“While I welcome this new funding to provide family-focused programmes, to promote healthy eating, oral health and physical activity, we must also work to change our environment and the way we live to make us more active and have healthier diets.
“We will work with other agencies particularly local authorities to make sure that this funding will help children make more informed choices about what they eat, and thus play an important part in improving health and wellbeing and tackling childhood obesity.”
The conference, being held today and tomorrow at the Balmoral Hotel, has attracted politicians and health professionals from across the UK, Europe and North America, including Canada, the United States, Estonia and Finland.
It is an opportunity to discuss innovative ways of tackling health inequalities so that different nations can learn from each other.
First Minister Alex Salmond will give the closing address at the conference tomorrow.
Speaking about the conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government faces the considerable twin challenges of improving our country’s health and tackling some stark health inequalities.
“Improving the health and wellbeing of populations and tackling the social determinants of health inequalities is a common challenge across Europe and North America and we need to keep our minds open to the best possible solutions.
“We want to learn from experiences and best practice elsewhere, and showcase the actions we have taken to tackle these challenges.
“That is why I am delighted today to welcome to Scotland senior representatives from other governments across the UK, Europe and North America to share ideas about how we can improve health and tackle inequalities.”
NHS Boards allocations – 2008/2009
Ayrshire and Arran - £145,000
Borders - £61,000
Dumfries and Galloway - £72,000
Fife - £142,000
Forth Valley - £122,000
Grampian - £196,000
Greater Glasgow – £400,000
Highland - £126,000
Lanarkshire - £217,000
Lothian - £270,000
Orkney - £32,000
Shetland - £33,000
Tayside - £149,000
Western Isles - £34,000
Total - £2,000,000