New Obesity Strategy Aims For Crackdown On Junk Food Advertising

26 October 2017, 18:30 | Updated: 26 October 2017, 18:32

Fast food junk food stock

A crackdown on junk food promotions and advertising will form part of Scotland's new diet and obesity strategy.

The plan also supports calls for a ban on TV and radio advertising of unhealthy food before the 9pm watershed in a bid to drive down Scotland's obesity levels which currently sit at 30%.

Further steps include providing more than £40 million for almost 100,000 weight management schemes for people who have or are at risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: "Obesity significantly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer cardiovascular disease and depression.

"Simply put, it's harming the people of Scotland. It also puts pressure on the NHS, other public services and our economy.

"That is why we need commitment and action from everyone across all sectors and at all levels including government, citizens, the public sector and businesses right across the country.

"We are putting forward a package of bold measures designed to help people make healthier choices, empower personal change and show real leadership. Now we need people who live, work and consume food and drink in Scotland to tell us what they think.

"As with our ground-breaking strategies on alcohol and tobacco, this is the start of a progressive plan of action, learning from our experience in Scotland and further afield, that will make a real, lasting difference to the country's health."

She launched a public consultation on the new strategy which will run until January 31.

Speaking in the chamber at Holyrood, she said the consultation would look at restricting junk food promotions as "the odds are stacked against most shoppers".

She said: "The first steps will be to consider what high fat, salt and sugar products and types of promotions should be targeted, such as multibuy or x for y."

The consultation document states temporary price promotions are also under consideration and that junk foods could be defined by the current nutrient scoring model, by the levels of substances such as sugar or saturated fat or by the calorie level.

The Minister added: "I am clear that improving the food environment is the single biggest change we need to see in Scotland.

"The reality is that many of us find it challenging to make health choices in an environment where food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar is cheap, widely available and heavily promoted."

She said the plan also proposes extending a non-broadcast ban on junk food advertising to places such as children's visitor attractions or school routes to "protect children".

Further proposals are a scheme for restaurants and takeaways including calorie labelling and portion size and calorie cap options which will be published by next summer and £200,000 funding over the next three year to help small and medium sized food businesses make healthier products.

Prevention in the early years will also be a focus with health visitors engaging with families to promote healthy eating.

Labour's Colin Smyth said the plan is "overdue" but welcomed it, adding: "The obesity crisis is the single biggest public health challenge facing Scotland today and one that sadly too often impacts on our most deprived communities.

"Two thirds of adults overweight, over a quarter of children, the worst rates in the UK and among the worst anywhere in the world.

"It's clear that the current obesity routemap has not met its milestones and bold, radical action is very much needed."

He pressed Ms Campbell to commit the consultation would not be used to "water down tough regulation".

Ms Campbell said there was "no intention" for the government to backtrack on regulation.

Conservative Miles Briggs also welcomed the plan and said action could "not come soon enough".