Junk food restrictions needed to curb ‘obesity crisis’

Open letter to the First Minister calls for regulations to restrict price promotions

Tuesday 20th August 2019

A leading obesity prevention organisation has penned a letter to the First Minister calling for regulations that would restrict price promotions on food and drink products high in fat, sugar and salt.

The Scottish Obesity Alliance (SOA) says regulations are needed to curb Scotland’s worsening obesity crisis.

Twenty national health charities, medical royal colleges, campaign groups and professional bodies have co-signed the letter that calls on the First Minister to commit to legislation to regulate multi-buy price promotions in this autumn’s Programme for Government.

Professor Steve Turner, officer for Scotland for the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health (RCPCH) – one of the organisations that has signed the letter – said:

"More than 28% of children in Scotland are overweight or obese. Research tells us that the food and drink children see strongly influences the food choices they make and how much they eat.

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.”

Obesity is now the most common cause of preventable cancer in Scotland after smoking, a situation described by Gordon Matheson, public affairs manager at Cancer Research UK, as “a major public health crisis.”

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."

The promotion of nutritional food alongside restrictions on the promotion of unhealthy food and drink as part of a ‘multi-agency approach’ is supported by the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

"We would back restricting multi-buy promotions on food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt in Scotland through legislation to help tackle obesity,” a College spokesperson said.

"However, alongside this we would welcome the promotion of nutritional food to make healthy eating more accessible to everyone.

"Obesity must be tackled through a multi-agency approach. We won’t make the progress we need unless policy makers, healthcare workers, schools and the public all play their part in tackling obesity.

"And we can only get to grips with obesity and diabetes in Scotland, if we get the balance right between food education and exercise.

"We back initiatives like the Daily Mile, which encourages children to get out and be active throughout the week, in groups of friends."