Sugary supermarket deals harming Scots’ health

Scots buy 110 tonnes of sugar a day through cut price deals Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Scots buy 110 tonnes of sugar a day through cut price deals Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
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Cheap supermarket deals are encouraging Scots to stock up on products containing 110 tonnes of sugar a day, a cancer charity has warned.

Special offers flogging cut-price unhealthy drinks and food are prompting people to buy products holding the equivalent of the sugar packed into 4.3 million chocolate bars or 3.1 million cans of cola.

Cancer Research UK, which carried out the study, called on the Scottish Government to restrict supermarket multi-buy offers and promotions on unhealthy food to reduce the risk of obesity related cancers.

Based on data provided by Food Standards Scotland, the study found that 54 per cent of soft drinks are bought on special deals, accounting for 13,672 tonnes of sugar a year, while confectionary bought on offer makes up 52 per cent, or 12,336 tonnes of sugar every year.

Cancer Research UK cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld, based at the University of Stirling, said “urgent action” was needed to prevent cancer in the future. She said: “Obesity is the unpalatable cost of the cheap deals routinely served up in our shops. We know that less healthy foods and drinks are more likely to be bought on promotion than healthier foods.

She added: “When it publishes its obesity strategy, the Scottish Government has a once in a generation opportunity to introduce measures that will have a profound impact on our lives. And with studies showing the most deprived in our society are more often obese and less likely to get their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables, much more needs to be done to make healthy options affordable instead.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We are absolutely committed to reducing the deeply ingrained health inequalities which persist in Scotland.

“We recognise the need to shift the emphasis from dealing with the consequences of a poor diet to tackling the underlying causes, which is why we have consistently called on the UK government to ban junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed, reducing children’s exposure to the marketing of unhealthy food and drink.”

Kawther Hashem, a nutritionist at Action on Sugar, said: “It’s deeply concerning that many products laden with sugar are on promotion, and more must be done by both the government and manufacturers to prevent foods and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar being marketed to children and adults.”

Comment: I blame my granny, says Darren McGarvey

he ubiquity of sugar in my childhood is typified by my first Halloween. I went from door-to-door, dressed as can of CocaCola, begging neighbours for chocolate.

Like many people, my terrible eating habits can be traced directly to my grandmother.

The very concept of food, how it should be sourced, produced and eaten, changed more in her lifetime than at any other period in human history. My journey into eating poorly started early in life. As kids, we’d queue up outside the dinner hall in school, talking about what we were going to have for lunch that day.

Before lunchtime, a tuck-trolley would roll through our classrooms, interrupting lessons for up to 15 minutes, filled to the brim with chocolate bars, sweets and fizzy drinks. fruit juices and crisps.

At my grandparents’ house we usually started the day with a heaped bowl of Sugar Puffs or Cornflakes, glazed with a tablespoon or two of sugar. Throughout the afternoon, we would snack on white bread, large mugs of tea with two or three sugars and nibble on biscuits. By the time I had navigated the labyrinth of contradictory disinformation available around nutrition, it was already too late – I was hooked.

Having recovered from other addictions, I now find my battle with sugar to be the central challenge of my life. And I don’t think I’m the only one.