DOCTORS have called for a "concerted effort" from the Government to provide better health education as new figures show obesity contributed to four deaths a week in Scotland.

Obesity was mentioned on the death certificates of 212 people in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available, which signals almost a 20% rise in fatal cases over the previous four years.

Around one in six boys aged between two and four were also classed as obese, with the weight problem affecting 16% of children in this category – up from one in 10 in 2007.

The proportion of obese female toddlers fell from 11.4% to 9.7%.

The figures emerged following a series of parliamentary questions by Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw.

They also showed 41% of male adults in Scotland were considered overweight, more than half of whom were obese.

In females, 32% were overweight, with a total of 23.5% obese.

British Medical Association Scotland, the professional association for doctors, said urgent action was needed. A spokeswoman said: "Scotland is facing an obesity epidemic which will put great strain on our NHS if efforts are not taken to tackle the problem. Childhood obesity rates are worryingly high.

"People who are overweight have an increased risk of a wide range of serious, life-threatening and chronic diseases. In Scotland, more than 40 people a day are diagnosed with diabetes and there are tens of thousands who remain undiagnosed. Most cases are closely linked to obesity."

The BMA spokeswoman added that children are not immune from these risks. Until recently, type-2 diabetes was only seen in adults, but now some adolescents are developing this condition which can lead to serious consequences in later life such as heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.

"We are therefore in danger of raising a generation of children burdened with long-term chronic health conditions."

The spokeswoman said while doctors had a role to play in supporting overweight patients and talking about the dangers of obesity, there was a limit to what they could do, adding: "There needs to be a concerted effort among politicians to take steps to improve the future health of our children."

BMA Scotland has called for better education for parents over the importance of a healthy diet for their children. Schools also have a role to play in helping young people understand the need to eat healthily and the consequences of bad diet and lifestyle, the spokeswoman added.

The European Perinatal Health Report found Scotland had one of the highest proportions of overweight pregnant women in Europe. Obese women accounted for 20.7% of all pregnant women in Scotland.

The next worst country was Germany where 13.7% of mothers-to-be were obese. The best-performing country was Poland where 7.1% of pregnant women were obese. There was no data for the other countries in the UK.

Obesity during pregnancy increases the mother's risk of diabetes and pre-eclampsia, the condition that causes blood pressure to rise and increases the likelihood of premature birth.

Mr Carlaw said: "What more warning could we possibly need that this crisis has to be addressed, and it has to be addressed at once? Of course the NHS and the Scottish Government have to take this on, but ultimately it is up to individuals and parents to assume some personal responsibility.

"That message has to be hammered home, otherwise more people will die needlessly and our NHS will strain even further under this immense pressure."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government admitted too many children in Scotland were overweight. "Tackling this issue requires engagement and participation right across Scottish society. That is why we are investing more than £7.5 million between 2012 and 2015 on projects to encourage healthy eating," she said.