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State of Child Health: Scotland – Two Years On

2018 was the year of the young person in Scotland, a year to celebrate all that children and young people are and what they do. We know that early years experiences of today’s children are crucial in making tomorrow’s adults, the type of parents they will be and the contribution they will make to society. So has life changed for children and young people in Scotland during 2018?

Addressing poverty, obesity and mental health were three key policies highlighted in our State of Child Health report in 2017. We were delighted with the Scottish Government commitment in summer 2018 to halve childhood obesity (currently affecting 14% of children) by 2030, this is a bold statement backed up by ‘Scotland’s diet and healthy weight delivery plan’ and ‘Scotland’s physical activity delivery plan’. Both of these plans will help Scotland become a healthier nation for children and young people. We also welcomed ‘Every child, every chance: tackling child poverty delivery’ plan, which was published in May 2018 and outlines actions to reduce relative child poverty to less than 10% by 2030. Extra funding has been allocated to support breastfeeding activities, we have a commitment to develop services for community mental wellbeing and the formation of a Children and Young People’s Mental Health Task Force, which has already announced welcome increased investment in the children’s mental health workforce.

The above commitments signify intent from the Scottish Government to invest in early years. This investment comes at a time when the gap in health outcomes is widening between children and young people living in our richest and poorest communities. The proportion of children at risk of being overweight or obese surges ahead in the most deprived areas but is falling back in the least deprived areas. Child poverty rates are increasing and child mental health services are struggling to meet demand. The present situation is not acceptable.