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Explaining the Scottish Dietary Targets


Morag MacKellar, SRD, FDBA
Head of Nutrition & Dietetic Services, Forth Valley Primary Care NHS Trust


The Scottish Office policy statement "Scotland's Health - A Challenge to Us All" (published in 1992) signalled a series of initiatives aimed at improving Scotland's poor health record.

The critical influence of diet on health was recognised in the setting up of a working party under the chairmanship of Professor James of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, by the Chief Medical Officer.

It was set up ...
to survey the current diet of the Scottish people;
to assess the relevance of diet to health;
to make proposals, if appropriate, for improvement in the Scottish Diet; to assess their likely impact.
The Scottish Diet Report was issued as a result of this initiative.

It traces the historical changes which have taken place in Scottish eating habits, provides extensive data and reviews the current dietary patterns in Scotland.

The report found that people of all ages are disadvantaged by a diet low in cereals, vegetables and fresh fruit; but rich in confectionery, meat products with a high saturated fat content, sweet and salty snacks and baked goods of inappropriate composition, accompanied by excessive amounts of sugary drinks.

Children's diets were identified as particularly poor, with school meals of especial concern. Of particular note was the large proportion of children who eat neither green vegetables nor fruit, while up to one fifth of men and an eighth of women fail to eat green vegetables on a regular basis if at all. As a result the Scottish diet is characteristically low in vitamins E, C, in beta-carotene and fibre; additionally it also contains an excess of saturated fats, refined sugars and salt.


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© Morag MacKellar, 1999