Tackling Scotland's poor record of health inequalities could take decades, MSPs have been told.
Scotland has one of the worst health divides between manual and non-manual workers in Europe, the Scottish Parliament heard.
Responding to a question by Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, public health minister Michael Matheson said many of these inequalities have been around for many decades and could take decades more to address.
Mr Fraser said: "Recent figures showed that the health divide between manual and non-manual workers in Scotland is amongst the worst in Europe.
"What is the Scottish Government doing to support initiatives such as the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) Hearty Lives programme?"
Mr Matheson responded: "The campaign which is run by the BHF is one which I think can have real value in helping to try and close down some of these health inequalities which we face in Scotland.
"I think in the member's question, though, he must also recognise that some of these health inequalities we have in Scotland have been there for many decades, and will probably take many decades to address effectively.
"What we have in place is a range of measures to try to make sure that we do that as effectively as possible, doing so in partnership with the NHS, the third sector and independent sector where they can play a part as well.
"What I would caution the member on is that some of these health inequalities are in danger of being exacerbated by some of the changes in the welfare reform programme which is being taken forward by the UK Government, which has the danger of actually undoing some of the good work it has been taking forth in closing down some of these health inequalities over recent years."