Associate feature: We need bold action to tackle obesity, but further controls on advertising are not the answer

Written by David Thomson on 27 October 2017 in Comment

David Thomson, CEO of Food and Drink Federation Scotland, on the Scottish Government's Diet and Obesity Consultation

David Thomson - image credit: FDF Scotland

FDF Scotland and its members take their role in tackling obesity very seriously. We are pleased to see that the Scottish Government's Obesity Strategy consultation recognises the great work the food and drink industry is doing to meet the obesity challenge.

A balanced, evidence-based approach covering diet, education and lifestyle is needed. Industry is playing its part in this with reformulation, limiting portion sizes and voluntary front-of-pack labelling. We also need to see bold and effective action in all the other areas of the proposed strategy. Only a holistic approach will have any chance of success.

Food and drink manufacturers have a strong record of voluntarily reformulating products for health. We welcome the Scottish Government's £200,000 commitment to help small and medium-sized enterprises reformulate their products – support which FDF Scotland and our partners have been calling for.

Restricting promotions will hit the poorest shoppers hardest – at a time when all customers are seeing increases to the cost of their weekly shopping basket. The regulation of promotions within retail premises is a hugely complicated area and could create unfair disadvantage to different types of products. We would urge Scottish Government to consult widely and to gather evidence on the financial, practical and legal implications for businesses and consumers before seeking to change the law.

We fully support the Committee of Advertising Practice's new rules introduced earlier in the year which put an end to the advertising of food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt in media targeted at children, including online. UK food and drink companies have a high compliance rate with advertising rules but further controls on advertising in what is already a strictly regulated marketplace would be a huge misfire.

FDF Scotland looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the Scottish Government, Food Standards Scotland and our industry partners from across the food chain to help make a real difference to the health of the Scottish people.

David Thomson is CEO of Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland

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