The proportion of overweight people in Scotland is currently 26.8%. Among the OECD countries, it is beaten only by the US and Mexico and the problem is going to get worse. Adult obesity levels could reach 40% by 2030 according to projections, doubling the £457m cost of obesity in Scotland in 2007/8.

Urgent action is needed, which is why in February the Scottish government launched strategy report Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland: A Route Map Towards Healthy Weight. The aim of this strategy is to reduce obesity through four main areas, which will each receive significant investment: energy consumption, energy expenditure, early years and working lives. The Scottish food and drink industry will have a key role to play, a fact that the Scottish Food and Drink Federation's (SFDF) Flora McLean acknowledges.

"Manufacturers have already done a lot of work around reformulation of products to reduce salt, fat and sugar levels," she says. "SFDF has also been working with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives and the Food and Health Alliance on a pilot project encouraging member companies to establish healthy workplace initiatives."

The strategy sets out a collaborative approach with food and drink companies, ranging from reformulation to ensuring portion sizes better reflect energy needs. Significant inroads have already been made through initiatives such as the Healthy Living Programme, which is managed by the Scottish Grocers' Federation.

The programme, which will receive £679,000 from the Scottish government over the next three years and will be match-funded by retailers, provides shops with the means to display and promote fresh, healthy produce. Healthy Living has 625 members and participating retailers have enjoyed increased sales, reporting that 56% of consumers are buying more fruit and vegetables than three years ago.

Focus On Scotland