Supermarkets in Scotland are set to be banned from running special offers on unhealthy foods, under plans announced by ministers to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis.
The proposals mean that shoppers will soon be unable to take advantage of buy-one-get-one-free deals on sweets, biscuits, crisps, cakes and sugary soft drinks.
An action plan published by the Scottish Government says shops should be stopped from providing “triggers” that encourage customers to indulge in food high in fat, salt and sugar.
Around a fifth of the average Scottish person’s daily calorie intake comes from so-called “discretionary foods” with little or no nutritional value, it adds.
READ MORE: Scots toddlers eat a million sweets a week
The plans will be set out in more detail in the autumn ahead of a public consultation, but the document sets out a number of ways in which the issue is likely to be tackled.
As well as banning multi-buy deals on unhealthy foods, restrictions could also be placed on unlimited refills of sugary drinks and the offer of incentives such as a free toy or loyalty points.
Lunchtime meal deals, which see shoppers encouraged to buy a drink and crisps or snack alongside a sandwich for a fixed price, could also come to an end as a result of the plans.
However, the action plan says restrictions will only apply to foods with “little or no essential nutrients”, meaning that popular foods such as pizzas may escape the ban.
Being overweight or obese ‘the norm’
The document warns that being overweight or obese is now “the norm” for Scottish adults, with almost two-thirds (65 per cent) in this category – a figure largely unchanged in the last decade.
It says Scots live increasingly sedentary lifestyles and are “bombarded” by messages encouraging them to eat unhealthily, adding that simply relying on people to change their habits themselves is not enough.
It proposes the creation of an advertising code of practice which would restrict junk food advertising at bus shelters, train stations and on public transport.
The new strategy also focuses on children and early years, with plans for a pre-conception campaign to encourage women to start pregnancy at a health weight.
“Far too many people in Scotland face serious risks to their health linked to poor diet and unhealthy weight,” said public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick.
“This is unacceptable and it’s largely avoidable. Scotland has a proud history of taking decisive action on public health and this is the next step in that journey.”
The plans were welcomed by healthy eating campaigners, but Cancer Research UK said it was “vital” that they led to enforceable laws so supermarkets were compelled to take action.
The Scottish Conservatives also welcomed what it described as a “U-turn” from ministers on banning two-for-one pizza deals.
“That was ill-thought through and would have hit families simply trying to buy an affordable meal that adults and children can enjoy,” said the party’s health spokesman Miles Briggs.
This story first appeared on our sister site iNews.