Scotland’s sweet tooth weighs heavily on nation’s obesity crisis

Cancer Research UK cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld.

Cancer Research UK cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld.

Scotland’s sweet tooth is putting the health of a generation at risk, according to a revealing new report by Cancer Research UK.

Scots are far more likely than those south of the Border to eat sweets and chocolates, with 39 per cent of Scots admitting to consuming confectionary at least once a day compared to 30 per cent of people in England.

The report, based on a YouGov survey, also found that Scots have a huge thirst for fizzy drinks with almost a fifth (18 per cent) consuming a sugary drink every day.

The findings, for Cancer Research UK’s Scale Down Cancer campaign in Scotland, are concerning because being overweight is the single biggest cause of preventable cancer after smoking, and is linked to thirteen types of cancer including bowel, breast, and pancreatic cancer.

And with around two-thirds (65 per cent) of adults in Scotland and more than one quarter (28 per cent) of children, overweight or obese, with sugar and fat-loaded food a major cause, Cancer Research UK is calling on the Scottish Government to take swift action.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK cancer prevention expert, who is based at the University of Stirling, said Scotland’s sweet tooth is a huge worry for the health of the nation.

She said: “Sugar should form no more than five per cent of our diet but, on average, both adults and children in Scotland consume much more than this.

“Too much sugar in our diet can lead to weight gain – which is not just linked to cancer, but also the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and tooth decay.

“From our love for tablet to soor plooms, toffee to macaroons, we’re a nation famous for our confectionary.

“If left unchecked, obesity will lead to a rising tide in ill health, including cancers, and become a crippling burden on the NHS.”

She continued: “The Scottish Government can and must do more to make it easier to shop healthily and serve up a better future for our young people. We need urgent action now to prevent thousands of cancers in the future.”

Fast food and the ready meal culture is also a cause for concern with more than half (52 per cent) of adults in Scotland having a ready meal once a week or more and 16 per cent eating fast food or a takeaway once a week or more.”

She said regularly consuming fast food and ready meals, which can have a higher calorie content and higher levels of fat and sugar than unprocessed homemade food, increases weight gain and obesity risk.

Professor Bauld added: “As these figures show, our fast paced lifestyles have fed in to our eating habits.

“We’re now hurtling towards an epidemic of larger waistlines and increased cancer risk fuelled by ‘grab and go’ foods and a growing appetite for takeaways and eating out.”