The Scottish Conservatives are calling for activity programmes in nurseries to help cut health inequality across Scotland and save the NHS money.

Party leader Ruth Davidson and health spokesman Brian Whittle launched the new healthy lifestyle strategy on a visit to the Little Learners Nursery in Edinburgh.

Mr Whittle accused the Scottish Government of focusing on "cure rather than prevention" and said the new programme would help Scotland shake off its "sick man of Europe" image.

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The recommendations in the report include training for nursery staff to deliver active play, online courses for primary teachers to continue pupils' sports development and the reintroduction of compulsory swimming lessons in primary schools.

Other recommendations involve introducing an independent inspectorate for hospital food standards, restricting the sale of unhealthy food in hospitals and providing more healthy options rather than universal school meals.

The party said the measures will tackle the health gap which leads to Scots dying two years earlier on average than people living in England and a 12-year gap in life expectancy between those living in the richest and poorest parts of Scotland.

Ms Davidson said: "The health gap that we have in Scotland is far too wide and we need to do more to improve the wellbeing of Scots.

"That is why we have developed this strategy - to provide practical solutions that can get to the heart of the health issues we face.

"A big step towards achieving this is encouraging more physical activity from a young age and that's why we're calling for it to become an integral part of children's lives.

"There's a huge body of evidence which proves that an active lifestyle can make an enormous difference to a person's physical health, mental health and ability to learn.

"We hope that this and the other recommendations made in this report can kick-start the debate on health and wellbeing in Scotland, and spur the Scottish Government into taking meaningful action."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government recognises that physical activity from an early age is important. That is why we are committed to encouraging all early learning and childcare providers to give children two hours of age-appropriate physical activity, including one hour a week outside.

"It is also why our ambition for Scotland is to become the first 'Daily Mile' nation with roll-out to nurseries - and schools, colleges, universities and workplaces - across the country.

"Play, including physical activity, is fundamental to children's learning and we have already invested in delivery of our play strategy and we will be publishing nursery design good practice in 2017 that will facilitate more outdoor learning. In addition, Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald recently launched trials to include a focus on more outdoor learning.

"We will study further proposals contained in this lifestyle strategy, but note that there is no indication of how they will be paid for."