Scotland has one of the highest levels of obesity in OECD countries with over a million adults and over 150,000 children obese. This is predicted to worsen with adult obesity levels reaching over 40% by 2030. Overweight and obesity brings with it a risk of disease and a cost to society that will directly impact on our ability to achieve sustainable economic growth. This situation is avoidable.
As the majority of the population in Scotland are overweight, they may require up to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day in order to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. To make this achievement realistic, this activity needs to be integrated into people's everyday routines. One of the most effective ways to absorb this much activity in a busy day is to reduce reliance on motorised transport, changing our means of everyday travel to walking and cycling.
Currently almost two-thirds of adults in Scotland are not even achieving 30 minutes moderate physical activity a day and only 13% of journeys to work are made by bicycle or on foot.
Foresight is clear that we cannot simply depend on individuals changing their travel habits without modifications to our physical and cultural environments. We need to make walking and cycling accessible, safe and appealing enough to be the default means of travel for short and local journeys.
National and local government needs to support this shift towards active travel as a mainstream choice by considering how all our policies impact on built environments so that they represent opportunities for rather than barriers to active travel.