Food banks help 35,000 in Lanarkshire

Dr Harpreet S Kohli, Lanarkshire Director of Public Health
Dr Harpreet S Kohli, Lanarkshire Director of Public Health

AROUND 35,000 people in Lanarkshire need the help of food banks.

Food poverty is causing NHS Lanarkshire concern, the Director of Public Health reveals in his annual report into health in the area.

“Food poverty is not new, and the reasons behind it are complex and challenging,” said Dr Harpreet S Kohli.

“The inability to access adequate nutritious food has a negative impact on physical and emotional health and wellbeing, and can increase demand for health and other services.”

The report cites evidence from the Trussell Trust, which provides food banks, of a sharp increase in demand for crisis food aid over the last five years. Lanarkshire now has over 25 food banks.

“Based on national data and accounting for the higher prevalence of poverty, we can estimate that approximately 35,000 people will need support in Lanarkshire, said Dr Kohli.

Reasons included unemployment, debt, benefit delays and benefit changes.

“Provision of emergency food aid alone is not a sustainable approach to food poverty,” said Dr Kohli.

“Tackling the underlying causes of poverty and inequality, and acknowledging that access to safe, nutritious food is a human right and a necessity for health is essential. In conjunction with partners, health services have a lead role in addressing food poverty.

*At June 2014 the NHS Lanarkshire area had an estimated population of 653,310; it is estimated that the number aged 75 and over will rise by 28 per cent by 2024.

In 2014 there were 6,688 deaths, and the death rate for Lanarkshire was still above the national average. Life expectancy, however, continued to increase, with a baby boy now expected to live to 75.8 and a girl now to 80.

There had been a reduction in the proportion of deaths due to the ‘big killer’ diseases – cancer was responsible for 28 per cent of all deaths, coronary heart disease for 13 per cent and stroke for 7 per cent. But respiratory disease accounted for 13 per cent, higher than the Scottish average.

The year saw an outbreak of mumps, with 216 cases.