Early intervention is needed to end Scotland’s obesity crisis, after new research revealed that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was called to assist more than 150 overweight people in the past four years.
A freedom of information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats showed that since January 2013 firefighters attended 159 “bariatric incidents”, including people becoming trapped and assisting other agencies in moving individuals.
Our emergency services do an incredible job. However, these figures highlight how the obesity crisis in Scotland presents a set of challenges for a service that already has enough on its plate.
Experts tell us many of these people may be afraid to leave their homes in the first place and are at risk of experiencing social isolation and mental ill health.
Scotland is losing the battle of the bulge. One in five children starting primary school is at risk of being overweight or obese. The proportion walking and cycling to school is now the lowest since the turn of the century.
These latest figures confirm the need for a radical new approach to tackling obesity, focused on early intervention and the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles. This includes extending the rights of GPs to social prescribing and the provision of free access to exercise programmes if they deem it to be in the best interests of an individual’s health. We also need to restrict the marketing of junk food to children and on TV.
This preventative approach will allow us to better tackle ill health, reduce the pressure on health and emergency services and give people the best chance of getting on in life.