Health charities urge Scottish Government to end junk food promotions

Rosie Lintott 21st August 2019 (Last Updated August 21st, 2019 11:44)

Members of the Scottish Obesity Alliance have urged the Scottish Government to restrict promotions on junk food to tackle the obesity crisis in Scotland, where nearly 30% of adults and 13% of children are obese.

Health charities urge Scottish Government to end junk food promotions
Health care charities and professional bodies are urging the Scottish Government to end junk food promotions. Credit: Sanjoy Ghosh

Members of the Scottish Obesity Alliance have urged the Scottish Government to restrict promotions on junk food to tackle the obesity crisis in Scotland, where nearly 30% of adults and 13% of children are obese.

Twenty healthcare charities and professional bodies have signed a letter urging First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon to include the legislation in autumn’s Programme for Government.

The letter states: “We are bombarded by promotions on food and drink products that contain excessive amounts of calories, fat, sugar and salt. It is time to be bold, for the Scottish Government to introduce legislation this year to regulate HFSS multi-buy price promotions in this autumn’s Programme for Government.”

Scottish Obesity Alliance chair Elma Murray OBE said: “The Scottish Obesity Alliance have identified securing restrictions on multi-buy price promotions as one of the first actions that can be taken by the Scottish Government to work towards an ambition to reduce levels of overweight and obesity. It is therefore important that the new Programme for Government contains a commitment to make this a reality.”

Last year the Scottish Government committed to reducing childhood obesity by 50% by 2030 after a public consultation on its diet and healthy weight plan achieved strong support for putting restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Tackling obesity is a public health priority and our Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan includes a wide range of bold measures designed to help families make healthier choices. One key component is ending our nation’s damaging relationship with junk food that is high in fat, sugar or salt and reducing associated health harms.

“One of the ways we are seeking to do this is by restricting the promotion and marketing of some discretionary foods high in fat, sugar or salt with little or no nutritional benefit. We have consulted on the steps to achieve this and our analysis will be published in the near future.”

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) officer for Scotland Professor Steve Turner said: “More than 28% of children in Scotland are overweight or obese. Research tells us that the food and drink children see strongly influences the food choices they make and how much they eat. With this in mind, it goes without saying, that in order to address Scotland’s obesogenic environment Scottish Government must be bold in the restrictions it places on price promotion and marketing.”