Diet, physical activity and weight

Maintaining a healthy weight throughout childhood is associated with many health benefits, while being overweight or obese is associated with a wide range of health problems over the entire lifespan and into the next generation. These include cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers, asthma, emotional distress and mental health difficulties in later life.

The proportion of children and young people who are at risk of overweight or obesity has remained relatively stable for some time, however this proportion increases as children age, and there is a growing inequalities gap in the proportion of children at risk of overweight and obesity.

Poor diet and physical inactivity are the main factors associated with becoming overweight or obese. Poor diet is a risk factor for ill health and, in the form of regular sugar consumption, is the main cause of dental decay. Physical activity is known to impact on more than 20 conditions and non-communicable diseases – the benefits of physical activity go beyond that of its contribution to health weight and obesity.

Diet and physical activity are strongly influenced by the economic, social, cultural and physical environments in which children and young people (CYP) live, grow and develop and the characteristics of the physical environments where children live are very important in shaping the behaviours that influence weight. In addition, the social conditions that result from inequalities in resources and power strongly influence CYP’s exposure to a range of stressors which in turn increase the risk of developing obesity.

This report card discusses the influences on children and young people’s diet, physical activity and body weight and presents data from a range of sources and for different levels including at a Scotland level, for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and across Glasgow City Region (GCR) local authorities.

The indicators included in this summary are: body weight; inequalities in body weight; diet; adult body weight; physical activity; physical inactivity; and breastfeeding.

Download the diet, physical activity and weight children's report card (PDF).