Fresh fears have been raised about Scotland’s obesity “crisis” as it emerged that more new oversized mortuary fridges have been installed in the north-east than the rest of the country combined.
New figures have revealed that NHS Grampian has 25 spaces for “semi-obese” people and a further three marked as “obese” at the Foresterhill Health Campus facility.
It is more than two-thirds of the total number of oversized mortuary fridges installed in the last five years across Scotland’s health boards.
The next highest number was in Lanarkshire, where there were six, while there were three in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and two each at both NHS Lothian and NHS Dumfries and Galloway.
The Aberdeen fridges were installed as part of a recent £299,000 revamp of the mortuary, which almost doubled its size.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs, who obtained the figures, said: “Obesity is fast-becoming Scotland’s number one health crisis.
“This is a problem across all age groups and all sections of society. It means people’s lives are being needlessly cut short and the cost to the NHS is rising.
“This research shows the situation is even forcing health boards to invest in bigger mortuary fridges to cater for those obese patients who have passed away.
“Far more work is needed across the board to help get Scotland’s population fitter and healthier.”
There were no oversized mortuary fridges installed at NHS Highland, NHS Orkney, NHS Shetland or NHS Western Isles over the past five years, according to their responses to Freedom of Information requests.
Planning permission was granted for the upgrade of the Aberdeen mortuary in December 2016 and it was completed a year later.
Last night, a spokesman for NHS Grampian said: “Over the last two years capacity at the Foresterhill Health Campus mortuary has almost doubled.
“This has been done to ensure it can continue to meet demand during busy periods and deal with the future needs of the increasing population in the region.
“All fridges installed during these improvements have larger spaces to ensure that they can accommodate all sizes of deceased.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling Scotland’s obesity problems.
“Earlier this year, we published our Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan to create a Scotland where everyone eats well and has a healthy weight.
“As part of this plan we will invest an additional £42 million over five years to give people with, or at risk of, type 2 diabetes support and better access to effective weight management services.
“We’re also consulting on restricting the in-store promotion and marketing of food that is high in fat, sugar or salt but with little or no nutritional benefit to tackle our nation’s damaging relationship with junk food.”