Obesity Action Scotland welcomes today’s (20th January 2016) Board Paper from Food Standards Scotland (FSS) which marks a turning point in Scotland’s intention to progress towards a healthier diet.
Obesity Action Scotland is delighted to see that FSS has shifted the discussion on regulation and taxation of Scotland’s food environment from if it should happen to when and how it should happen.
FSS recognise that policies with good intentions have, until now, been insufficient to alter the rise in obesity and that voluntary approaches to working with industry have had a poor response in Scotland. FSS highlight that now is the time to take new approaches to improve the food and drink environment - the use of taxation and regulation are steps we should now take.
The key issues within the paper that Obesity Action Scotland supports are:
- exploring how and where regulation might be most effective to rebalance promotions in favour of healthier food and drink
- exploring the potential for regulation in relation to retail and out of home portion size
- that Scottish Government and FSS officials actively consider how a sugar tax may be introduced and at what rate
- the initiative to provide support to small businesses with an on-line calorie labelling tool
Where Obesity Action Scotland supports FSS but would ask it to go further includes:
- Advertising and Marketing – there is clear recognition that advertising and marketing influence what we purchase and consume. Whilst we fully support the call for UK Government to restrict children’s advertising on broadcast and non-broadcast media we also need Scottish Government to consider what is within its powers and how it could influence billboard and other types of local marketing and advertising.
- Reformulation – we welcome the proposed introduction of more challenging time bound targets. Obesity Action Scotland calls for a better framework to monitor success and a clear process of encouragement and consequences.
- Labelling – Obesity Action Scotland believes that improvements could be made to labelling including regulation to ensure consistent application across the industry of the front of pack labelling, improved labelling for sugar content, and improved and consistent nutritional information for eating out.
Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, in her report out today, places obesity at the top of her public health problem list.
“This is an important step for food policy in Scotland, taking effective measures to prevent obesity. We are delighted that Food Standards Scotland has not only recognised the need for change but has also indicated that it will move forward to implement that change. Now is the time for change, let’s do this together.”
said Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland
“If we are to turn the tide on the crisis we face with obesity and overweight in Scotland we need such bold actions. I would urge Scottish Ministers to commit to progress these actions and to implement the change we need. We need industry to take the steps necessary to ensure the healthy choice is the easy choice for consumers.”