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Fife’s director of public health calls for action on healthy eating

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More should be done to make healthy eating easier, Fife’s director of public health has said.

Dona Milne said many people do not understand what is healthy food and do not appreciate the impact of levels of saturated fat and sugar.

Making food labels compulsory and considering the licensing of fast food vans near schools are both options which should be considered in the fight to make Fifers healthier, she said.

She said: “Do people know what is healthy? In a lot of cases they don’t.

“They don’t appreciate saturated fat, sugar levels etc. There’s a lot we can do around making food labels compulsory.”

Addressing councillors on Levenmouth area committee, Ms Milne said it was important to make sure people had access to healthy food.

“Often where high schools are located there are fast food shops nearby.

“If you’re looking for something quick, you might go for that.”

She added: “We may want to think about licensing when it comes to things like that around high schools.

“We also have to look at things in moderation because we don’t want to be miserable.”

According to her annual report, only 23% of Fife adults and 16% of five-to-12 year olds eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and two thirds of adults and 22% of children are overweight or obese.

Ms Milne, who took over her public health role in the region in September 2018, pointed out however there is a lot more to healthy living than simply eating healthy food.

“If you want to improve health it’s not just about eating five-a-day.

“It’s also about education, employment, housing and making sure households have enough to live on.

“We are doing work around trying to address poverty and inequality and I’ve made that a priority for the next two years.

“A lot of work that needs to be done is outwith the NHS.”

Ms Milne pointed out life expectancy had plateaued in Fife and in Scotland as a whole and further analytical work was being done to understand the reasons.

“In some areas it’s starting to decline.

“We have a joint piece of work going on with Public Health Scotland to produce information.

“There’s a lot activity around what we call social prescribing but we have to ensure all that activity is informed by evidence and the needs of the community.”

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