Scottish Obesity Alliance - 6 months on

15 May 2019

Our Scottish Obesity Alliance is now almost 6 months old.  In this short time we have grown from 12 to 21 members.  Just as important as our growing numbers is the breadth of our membership, which is also reflected in our smaller Coordinating Group membership.  We have representation covering diet, physical activity and active travel, as well as research and medical expertise. 

Since December 2018, we have had a kick-off meeting of the Alliance members in January, which was followed by the first Coordinating Group meeting at the start of March.  Our March meeting took the form of a workshop, when we reviewed our Scottish Obesity Alliance manifesto and sought to reach a consensus on our key priorities for our first year of work. 

Our next meeting in May will confirm these priorities but it was useful to note that there was strong consensus about supporting the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce childhood obesity by 50% by 2030.  Only 11 years away. 

The Coordinating Group are also keen to ensure that we present a positive way forward.  As a result, one of the other emerging priorities for this year is to support the promotion of healthy products and create our own lobbying statement on promotions.  When we meet again in May to finalise our programme for this year we will also look at areas where we believe further research is required. 

Our social media presence is really starting to take off with our twitter account now up and running and our website starting later this month.  Please follow us if you haven’t already. 

Over the last few months Shruti and I have also managed to fit in some meetings with planning colleagues to discuss their thinking around the obesogenic environment and the opportunities that planners can have to influence the creation of ‘healthy-weight’ environments.  These have all been very positive and it highlighted their current work with public health practitioners on Place and Population Health. 

In April 2019, Glasgow hosted the annual European Obesity Congress.  The Scottish Obesity Alliance was invited to join the opening ceremony and I was able to explain to delegates what our Alliance seeks to achieve.  It was a huge privilege and fantastic opportunity to highlight our commitment to making change happen to an international audience of key scientists, medical practitioners and researchers.  

The Congress also focused significantly on childhood obesity and listening and learning from those with lived experience.  I was fortunate to be able to attend many of the sessions and make many new contacts. 

Over these last few months I have attended the parliamentary reception to publicise the ‘State of Child Health: 2 Years On’ as well as the Cross-Party Working Group on Health Inequalities.  These have provided excellent opportunities for me to discuss with our MSPs the role of the Alliance and our ambitions.   Our MSPs have all responded positively to this and I hope to be able to provide you with further updates over the course of the year. 

Finally, I want to thank all of our Alliance members for working with us and to let you know that we will be arranging an Alliance Network Event later this year to hear more about how we are progressing.  I also want to thank our Coordinator, Shruti, for her hard work in getting our Alliance up and running.  She’s been a real star.