(b) Critically discuss the role of schools in meeting the challenge of improving
Scotland’s diet. 15
their products. (25)
[END OF QUESTION PAPER]
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NAT I O NA L F R I DAY, 2 M AY HOME ECONOMICS
QUA L I F I CAT I O N S 1. 0 0 P M – 3 . 2 0 P M
2 014 HEALTH AND FOOD
TECHNOLOGY ADVANCED HIGHER
For use with SECTION A.
Read the following report carefully and then answer the questions in SECTION A of the accompanying question paper.
You should spend approximately 1 hour in total on Section A.
CHALLENGING OBESITY IN SCOTLAND
Scotland leads the UK’s adult obesity league—with 65% of adults overweight or obese. Lifestyle statistics compiled by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) in 2012 put 37% of Scotland’s adults in the overweight bracket and 28% as obese. In England, 63% of the adult population is overweight or obese while in Northern Ireland it’s 59% and in Wales it’s 57%.
The Head of Health Information at WCRF said “Across the whole of the UK we eat too many sugary and fatty processed foods which are not good for us and, like people in other Western nations, we live sedentary lives. These two factors are the main forces behind the obesity crisis we are facing at the moment.”. The WCRF would also like to see changes in areas such as food labelling to make the selection of healthy eating options easier for people and town planning to make physical activity safer and more attractive.
Some people do not believe this would be enough and they suggest the introduction of a “fat tax” should be added to the cost of unhealthy food and drink to discourage their consumption. Although the present voluntary approach to tackling poor diet is still favoured by most people, some do think if it continues to be ineffective then the introduction of such a tax may be necessary.
Researchers from the Centre of Food Policy at London’s City University and Oxford University believe that increasing the cost of “junk food”, including chocolate, takeaway food, biscuits and crisps, could mean up to 20% fewer people buying them. They argue that this could lead to a 3·5% drop in obesity rates and around 270 fewer deaths from heart disease in Scotland every year. The researchers also advocate subsidising the cost of fruit and vegetables for consumers using the tax from fatty, processed foods and believe that this would result in substantial health benefits.
The food industry argues that taxes would be ineffective, unfair and would ultimately damage the industry and result in job losses. However, one member of the research team from Oxford University, Dr Oliver Mytton, said “Health related food taxes could improve health as evidence suggests taxes are likely to shift consumption in the desired direction. The tax would need to be at least 20% to have a significant effect on population health.” He highlighted how food taxes had already been trialled in other European countries such as Denmark, Hungary and France.
John Mooney, Public Health Specialist for the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy team, supported the idea of a “fat tax” but said consumers needed access to more affordable, healthier options. He said, “There are going to be a lot of members of the public and people in the food and drinks industry who are opposed to such a tax saying it offers them less choice and will cost them more money, but I believe that anything that improves public health should be seriously considered”. He also believed that subsidising the cost of fruit and vegetables would be a very good way of making these costly perishable foods more affordable and therefore a more realistic alternative to the unhealthier foods.
Researchers believe that raising the cost of a wide range of unhealthy foods would provide the most health benefits and say evidence shows that adding a financial penalty to sugary drinks would be the most beneficial. One American study found a 35% tax on sugar sweetened drinks on sale in staff canteens led to a 26% decline in sales.
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A recent Scottish Government study revealed that one in ten Scottish children are already clinically obese by the time they start school. Official statistics show an increasing number of deaths registered in Scotland in which obesity was either the underlying cause or one of the contributing factors. A recent report showed that obesity is costing Scotland’s health service more than £450m each year.
Lack of physical activity is another important factor related to obesity. Despite government guidelines recommending a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 times a week, many people do not achieve this target. Many jobs involve sitting at a desk most of the day. People also rely on their cars rather than walking, or cycling. When they relax, many people tend to watch TV, browse the internet or play computer games, and rarely take regular exercise. This lack of exercise can mean that the energy provided by food is not used up, resulting in it being stored in the body as fat. If this cycle continues, obesity may occur.
Being overweight is the biggest preventable risk factor for cancer after smoking. Being a healthy weight not only reduces this risk but it can also help reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Eight out of every ten people suffering from Type 2 diabetes are also obese.
So how can we help reverse this trend? Do we need a “fat tax” to help make this happen?
All chocolate and junk food should be slapped with 20% fat tax—
Natalie Walker, Scotsman 2012
Scotland leads UK adult obesity table—World Cancer Research Fund 2012
[END OF REPORT]
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Report – Article is based on two articles, one being “Scotland leads UK adult obesity table,” 7 August 2012.
SQA has made every effort to trace the owners of copyright materials reproduced in this question paper, and seek permissions. We will be happy to incorporate any missing acknowledgements. Please contact Janine.Anderson@sqa.org.uk.
Report – Article is based on two articles, one being “All chocolate and junk food should be slapped with 20% fat tax” by Natalie Walker, taken from The Scotsman, 16 May 2012.
Reproduced by permission of The Scotsman Publications.
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