Managing health issues

The food you eat can make a big difference to your wellbeing.

A healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet means you’re more likely to keep your body healthy. Otherwise, you risk various disorders including obesity, diabetes or cancer.

Overweight and obesity

Obesity is being so overweight that it presents a serious threat to your health. It’s caused by too many calories, and not enough physical activity. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. Currently, around two-thirds of adults in Scotland are either overweight or obese.

How to discover whether you’re overweight

If you’re worried about your weight, you can calculate your BMI (body mass index) using a BMI calculator.

How to achieve a healthy weight

You’ll be able to keep your weight healthy by following a healthy diet and staying physically active. Don’t use crash diets, but make small, permanent changes to the food you eat.

Illnesses related to diet

A poor diet – too much fat, not enough fibre and fruit and vegetables, or drinking too much alcohol – can cause a number of illnesses.

Cancer

Cancer is the most common cause of death in Scotland.

Around 40% of cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes, inlcuding eating a healthy diet, achiving and maintaining a healthy weight, being active, not smoking and avoiding drinking more alcohol than is recommended.

Red meat and bowel cancer

Eating lots of red meat (such as beef, lamb and pork) and processed meats (such as meat products such as sausages and ham) increases the risk of bowel cancer. Adults should eat no more than 70g a day, which is the same as around 2 slices of roast meat. You can find out more in our section on a healthy diet.

Alcohol and cancer

Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can help you prevent cancer. Current recommendations are that consumption should be limited to no more than 14 units of alcohol per week for men and women.

One unit is the amount of pure alcohol in a 25ml measure of spirits, a third of a pint of beer, or half a 175ml glass of red wine.

Body weight and cancer

Being overweight increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer, including 2 of the most common types of cancer (breast and bowel cancers) and 3 of the hardest to treat (pancreatic, oesophageal and gallbladder cancers). Find out more here.

Types of diabetes

There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2.  Type 1 develops when cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed.  This type of diabetes is treated with insulin, a hormone that regulates the blood.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough of the hormone insulin to function properly, or the body's cells don't react to it.  It can cause high blood glucose levels which can cause damage to the body. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can have serious consequences including kidney, eye and foot damage, hearing impairment and heart and blood vessel disease which can result in limb amputations.

Being overweight or obese or drinking lots of sugary drinks increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The majority of type 2 diabetics in Scotland are overweight or obese.

Eating a healthy diet, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and being active can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

More information on diabetes and maintaining a healthy diet can be found on diabetes.org.

If you are diabetic, your doctor or diabetes nurse can advise you on food and managing your blood sugar.

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