Reaction: Scotland’s NDNS results

Scotland’s diabetes ‘time bomb’

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Scottish consumers need to up their consumption of fruit and vegetables
Scottish consumers need to up their consumption of fruit and vegetables

Related tags: Nutrition

Scotland’s ageing and increasingly overweight population is facing a “diabetes time bomb”, which must be a focus of the Scottish government.

That’s the opinion of Dr Carrie Ruxton, one of the UK’s leading nutritionists, following the release of Scotland’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) statistics earlier this week​.

“And, post referendum, English voters will be less inclined to pay for premium healthcare in Scotland,” ​Ruxton told

The NDNS report, which compared the diets of 5,832 Scottish households to the UK average between 2008/09 and 2011/12, showed the Scots were eating fewer portions of fruits and vegetables and drinking more alcohol and sugary drinks than the rest of the UK.

Other issues

The NDNS survey for the whole of the UK was released in May this year and highlighted a UK-wide vitamin D deficiency​ among other issues.

“Low intakes of vegetables in Scotland could be due to more rural populations having less access to a choice of quality vegetables,” ​Ruxton said.

There were also higher levels of depravation, which were driving poorer food choices and higher alcohol intakes, she predicted.

“Or weather effects, such as cold and rain, don’t encourage vegetable consumption and may boost alcohol and confectionery intake as people seek to cheer themselves up.”

Ayela Spiro, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said changing a nation’s diet was a complex task.

“The relationship between health and diet is a complex one, and effective solutions to the high levels of obesity are likely to include a number of diverse, evidence-based approaches designed to modify dietary and lifestyle patterns,” ​she told

Considerable improvements

However, the diets of Scottish consumers were comparable to the rest of the UK’s, and there were considerable improvements to be made to the diets of both nations, she added.

“Perhaps in contrast to some popular opinion of poorer diets in Scotland, the results reflect a largely similar pattern as in the UK,” ​said Spiro.

Both nations were consuming too much saturated fat, free sugars and salt and not eat enough fruit and vegetables, fibre and oily fish, she said.

“But the notable differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK are mean consumption of vegetables is considerably lower for the majority of the population,​” explained Spiro.

Responsibility to change the diets of all UK consumers lay with many sectors of society, she added.

“This includes government, industry, media, educators and public health organisations.”

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