Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First


Body Weight

Snacking – for and against

By Dr Anna Gryka-MacPhail, Policy Officer, Obesity Action Scotland

Snacks vs. healthy snacks

Some people when asked what a snack is would point to crisps, biscuits, pastries or chocolate bars. Such products are heavy on calories but poor in important nutrients and were named ‘discretionary’ by Food Standards Scotland. We consume up to a fifth of energy from these products. This, together with the fact that on average we eat excess of 200-300 kcal every day, suggests a simple action: #sackthesnack. A 2015 survey found that more than half of the people would prefer to cut down on snacks.

Continue reading “Snacking – for and against”

Should we call a spade a shovel? Polite names for Junk Foods and other extra calorie sources

Last week we launched our social media campaign called #sackthesnack inviting readers to take the challenge of swopping one daily snack for alternative behaviours like taking 200 steps, doing a little #kettlecise stretching or maybe even standing and moving to take a short phone call. The rationale for focussing on snacks was because snacks like biscuits, cakes, pastries, crisps and sugary drinks provide a fifth of our calories and cutting even one of these snacks in our daily life (and burning a few calories extra) might help us on the way to re-balancing our energy intake.

Continue reading “Should we call a spade a shovel? Polite names for Junk Foods and other extra calorie sources”

Take the challenge – #sackthesnack

Once upon a time a snack was a treat, an extra or a present. As a child I eagerly awaited the arrival of the 6.40pm bus on a Thursday which delivered Auntie Mary with her bag containing the Bunty comic and a small tube of smarties (“for my wee snack”). The conditions of use were that sweeties had be shared with my big sister and all adults offered one (they could choose their colour). As a rural living 8 year old this visit was the highlight of my week. 

Continue reading “Take the challenge – #sackthesnack”

Paper of the Year 2018: Dr Katie Robb

Continuing our paper of the year selection…. Health psychologist and winner of the 2018 Scottish Cancer Foundation Prize and Evans Forrest medal Dr Katie Robb from University of Glasgow highlights the following paper about changing cancer related lifestyles and importantly our environments.

Continue reading “Paper of the Year 2018: Dr Katie Robb”

Medical student: What the 12 codes against cancer taught me about cancer prevention

During first year of medical school, I walked in to my nutrition tutorial eating chocolate buttons and I was told off by the person undertaking the session. I proceeded to place the chocolate in my bag, listen to how we need to eat our “five a day” and minimise sugar intake and then left the class to finish off my chocolate. During the first three years of medical school, we are taught about a long list of conditions that result from an unhealthy lifestyle. This comes in contrast with the very little teaching we get on lifestyle modification. So, if my teaching on this topic is limited, how am I expected to embrace this lifestyle myself and subsequently deliver it effectively to my patients? Continue reading “Medical student: What the 12 codes against cancer taught me about cancer prevention”

Alcohol – Finding the off switch #SoberOctober

In casual conversation amongst a bunch of friends I recently heard three accounts of people (all aged over 65) who changed their thoughts about drinking… so I asked them to retell their stories for our blog. In sober October I find these tales of inspiration, and a reminder that moving to being a non drinker may well solve many of the challenges about drinking limits.

Here is Margaret’s journey…. Continue reading “Alcohol – Finding the off switch #SoberOctober”

Healthy Halloween

Because without doubt, one of the scariest things about Halloween is the amount of sugar consumed…

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In 2016, 65% of people in Scotland were overweight or obese and strong evidence shows that the consumption of processed foods high in sugar is a cause of weight gain, overweight and obesity. The main sources are confectionary (chocolate and sweets) and sugary drinks. On average, adults in Scotland consume 14.1% of their daily intake from sugar, when the recommended upper intake is only 5%. This is a contributory factor in more people being overweight- toddlers, children and adults!

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancers, so to reduce this risk we need to aim for healthy choices, like lowering the amount of added sugar in our diets. 

Continue reading “Healthy Halloween”

Changing lifestyles… you are never too old

During Sober October we are continuing our series on people who decided to think twice about drinking.

Like many mainly retired people, after I ceased the very active way of life associated with my full-time work, my weight gradually increased over the years. This was in spite of leading a fairly active lifestyle, including swimming nearly most mornings and lots of walking. I also thought that ate reasonably healthily – including the recommended five portions of fruit and veg per day. 


However, my real problem was that I really enjoyed red wine and my daily intake had increased and increased and increased over the years. And, of course, red wine must be accompanied by a copious intake of crisps, nuts, and oatcakes, spread thickly with butter and topped with large amounts of cheese.  I made the usual excuses: I enjoy drinking wine since it is relaxing and sociable and alleviates stress, I can certainly afford it, I don’t have to get up and go to work anymore and I don’t need to drive much since I have a bus pass.  And, the wonderful rationale of: well, I see all these old guys like me in the gym dressing room, and I am not nearly as overweight as some of them! Continue reading “Changing lifestyles… you are never too old”

Top 10 tips to #SitLessMoveMore at work

We all know we should try to be active regularly to stay healthy – it is recommended we do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week. We can do this by walking, going to a gym class or taking part in a team sport. It is also recommended we try to reduce and break up our sitting time. It is important to think about physical activity and sitting separately to maximise the benefits for our health. People fall into four categories when it comes to their physical activity and sedentary behaviours: Continue reading “Top 10 tips to #SitLessMoveMore at work”

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