A government weight-watcher is to be appointed after a survey of health in Scotland showed around three-quarters of Scots were overweight.

Scottish health minister Susan Deacon is to appoint a national diet action co-ordinator - variously dubbed the 'fat controller' and the 'fat czar' in the press - in the next few months, to tackle poor diet.

The Scottish Health Survey, which looked at the diet, smoking and eating habits of a representative sample of 13,000 Scots aged two to 74 between April 1998 and May 1999, found that more than 77 per cent of men and 73 per cent of women were overweight or obese.

It found a 6 per cent increase since 1995 in the numbers of 16 to 64-year-olds eating fruit at least once a day and a 9 per cent rise in the numbers eating potatoes, pasta or rice more than five times a week.

But there was a 3 per cent increase in the prevalence of obesity in the same group, the survey showed.

More than 38 per cent of men and 35 per cent of women were 'physically inactive', with around 24 per cent of men and women suffering a cardio-vascular disorder.

Scottish secretary of the British Medical Association Dr Bill O'Neill said doctors' 'hearts would sink at the appointment of a fat czar'. He called for a 'more comprehensive' approach to problems of smoking and diet in Scotland.