It is too easy when working with the cancer risks associated with obesity to forget that all too often we see the double burden of over nutrition and under nutrition as people strive to afford the diets associated with cancer risk reduction. Food Poverty in Scotland has been well documented over the decades, not least by Sir John Body Orr in the 1930’s, and continues to be a challenge to health for too many Scots.
Bill Gray from Community Food and Health (Scotland) at NHS Health Scotland reminds us of these issues…
Ensuring we properly understand food poverty, and apply that learning to addressing it, has been at the heart of NHS Health Scotland’s efforts in the past couple of years. Late last summer a study into the nature and extent of food poverty in Scotland, commissioned from a multidisciplinary team lead by the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, was published .
“…there is an urgent need to develop better means of measurement and understanding of individuals’ and families’ lived experiences of food insecurity in Scotland, to help develop, and make the case for, effective policy solutions that can comprehensively address household food insecurity and the plethora of dietary-related health conditions that affect so many of the Scottish population.”
Building on the research, NHS Health Scotland launched their position statement on food poverty a few months later, outlining the challenges ahead for the organisation and partners from every sector .
“Food bank usage is one indicator of food poverty and represents only a proportion of the Scottish population who are experiencing food poverty (or household food insecurity). As a result NHS Health Scotland believes that food poverty goes beyond food bank usage.”
An early action following the adoption of the position statement was to invite visiting Canadian academic, Professor Valerie Tarasuk to reflect on her experience on the national adoption of research methods and what this can mean for the development of responses, both positively and negatively. What the Canadian experience means for Scotland was then discussed by a mixed audience of practitioners, policy makers and academics .
Professor Tarasuk recommended effective measurement of food poverty as “a lens on our society” but warned that any measurement had to be about “tackling rather than simply exposing reality”.
This article was originally published in the SCPN Newsletter Volume 7, Issue 2. Read the full issue here, or read the digital edition below (great full screen on mobiles).