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Health groups call for 'urgent' introduction of junk food price promotion restrictions

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Health groups call for 'urgent' introduction of junk food price promotion restrictions

Twenty health bodies have written to First Minister Nicole Sturgeon asking that proposed laws restricting price promotions on unhealthy food and drink be included in the programme for government.

Scottish Obesity Alliance (SOA) members, which includes Cancer Research UK, Diabetes Scotland, British Dental Association Scotland and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, told Sturgeon “urgent action” was needed to restrict “all promotions on food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt in Scotland”.

“Members of the SOA are calling for these proposals to be put in legislation this year as part of your programme for government. This is a vital step in creating a Scotland where everyone can enjoy a healthy weight,” the letter said.

“To delay will undermine your government’s determination to tackle health inequalities and reduce childhood obesity by 50 per cent by 2030.”

The 20 organisations told Sturgeon Scotland was “bombarded by promotions on food and drink products that contain excessive amounts of calories, fat, sugar and salt”.

“Multi-buy, temporary price reductions and extra free promotions all alter price perceptions and encourage people to buy a greater number of unhealthy products. Displays at checkouts prompt further impulse buys.”

The group said restrictions around multi-buy price promotions should be prioritised, and there was “strong public support for a ban on junk food price promotions”.

“You will have the overwhelming support of the public and public health professionals if you act without delay,” the letter said.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health officer for Scotland Steve Turner said research showed the food and drink that children saw advertised “strongly influences the food choices they make and how much they eat”.

“More than 28% of children in Scotland are overweight or obese,” Turner said.

“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.”

Cancer Research UK public affairs manager Gordon Matheson said Scotland “cannot afford any delays in bringing forward legislation to tackle the price promotion of junk food”.

“The need for regulation is compelling and the public is supportive. Now is the time for the Scottish Government to act,” he said.

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