Junk food marketing crackdown pledge welcomed by obesity campaigners

Written by Tom Freeman on 6 September 2017 in News

Long-awaited obesity strategy mentioned in Nicola Sturgeon's programme for government

Obesity - PA

Campaigners on obesity have welcomed a pledge by the Scottish Government to crack down on the marketing of junk food.

The Scottish Government have stalled over the last year on a strategy to tackle obesity despite figures showing two thirds of Scots are overweight or obese, and the rates growing among children.

But outlining her programme for government for the new parliamentary year yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hinted the strategy will include a crackdown on marketing of unhealthy food, which may include tackling multi-buy promotions.


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"We will take forward a new strategy to tackle obesity, including measures to restrict the marketing of foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt," Sturgeon told MSPs.

It was little more than a passing reference, but the government insists this could include multi-buy promotions.

Doctor-led campaign group Obesity Action Scotland said it was a "solid indication" of a bold approach.

Programme Lead Lorraine Tulloch said: “Every day our decisions about what to eat are influenced by price promotions and marketing strategies employed by the industry.  This has led us to have a particularly unhealthy diet in Scotland and we are suffering many health consequences including overweight and obesity. 

"These proposals must ensure that we can create a healthier food environment in Scotland by tackling price promotions and the ubiquitous advertising of unhealthy food.  We look forward to seeing more of the detail in the Scottish Government’s diet and obesity strategy and Good Food Nation Bill.”

Cancer Research UK, which has campaigned on tackling multi-buy promotions, gave a more cautious welcome.

The charity's cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld, who is based at the University of Stirling, said: “There can be no doubt that a bold strategy is needed to curb the dire consequences of obesity on Scotland’s health.

“Scotland has been in the grip of an obesity epidemic for too long. Not only is Scotland one of the heaviest nations in Europe, but Scots also buy double the amount of food and drink on price promotion than shoppers on the Continent.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to limit junk food marketing is a step in the right direction but, to progress, regulations are needed to restrict multi-buy offers on unhealthy food and drink.

“Obesity is linked to 13 different types of cancer. As part of its forthcoming obesity strategy, the Scottish Government must grasp the opportunity to help families make it easier to keep a healthy weight.

“Measures to help us enjoy a better diet and fill our shopping baskets with healthy food will make it easier for us all to stack the odds of not getting cancer in our favour.”

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