Obesity: Scottish Government urged to be bold on junk food and private cars

Written by Tom Freeman on 23 January 2017 in News

The Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee calls for 'unpopular' policies to tackle obesity

Obesity - PA

Scotland should be bold in tackling the promotion of junk food to tackle the county’s obesity problem, a group of MSPs has said.

In a letter to public health minister Aileen Campbell, Holyrood’s Health and Sport Committee called for a broad policy approach after hearing evidence which shows Scotland has some of the poorest outcomes of OECD countries.

Recent results from the Scottish Health Survey found two-thirds of Scots are now obese or overweight, while only a fifth of adults eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables.


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Meanwhile, recommended levels of physical activity needed to prevent health risks in later life are only being met by 31 per cent of men and 24 per cent of women.

The Committee said Scotland had a policy framework which could enable the Scottish Government to make decisions “that may initially be unpopular” when introducing new initiatives, while being better at implementing existing policies.

These include restricting discounts and offers on junk food, restricting car use and promoting active travel options.

Unhealthy food is “more available and more heavily promoted than in other countries”, the letter said.

Convener of the Health and Sport Committee, Neil Findlay MSP said: “Scotland has not previously been afraid to take the initiative to tackle health related issues when other interventions have failed. This is why this Committee is asking for a bold approach to tackling obesity.

“If we don’t act now, we will be condemning future generations to a lifetime of poor health which is often driven by poverty leading to poor dietary choices.”

The committee will also consider bringing forward its own legislative proposals.

The letter was welcomed by Obesity Action Scotland. Programme lead Lorraine Tulloch said: “We are delighted that the Health and Sport Committee have recognised and supported the need for action to tackle price promotions of unhealthy foods. We know that price promotions lead us to buy more than we intended and consume more than we intended. We need to ensure that the healthy choice is the easy choice for everyone.”

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