Junk Food has Christmas Warped Up

11 December 2017

Christmas is coming. Lights are twinkling and tills are ringing. It is a time for gifts, family, celebrations and indulgence.

Lets stop for a moment and think about that indulgence. Christmas is now marketed from October onwards. Data from Food Standards Scotland indicates that the purchase of discretionary foods over a 12 week period (including Christmas) equates to around 9000 extra calories being consumed. This is the equivalent of 1kg weight gain for every adult. This isn’t just two or three days of indulgence, this is weeks upon weeks of treats.

When we open our eyes and pay more attention to the environment around us at this time of year, it is clear that the retailers’ drive for sales is difficult to resist.

At this time of year shop windows, street adverts and ‘end of aisle’ sections are piled high with bright signs and even brighter boxes of chocolates and sweets. The position of these items, the colourful packaging and the very tempting prices, are aimed at one thing – sell as many as possible.

At a time of year when the Coca Cola Truck comes to cities across the UK giving out free cans of Coca Cola to children, we must remind ourselves that sugar sweetened beverages are the biggest single source of free sugar in the diet of Scottish children and that, on average, Scots consume almost 3 times more free sugars than the dietary guidelines recommend.

When we settle down for a cosy Saturday night in front of the TV out of the wind and rain, we are exposing our children to junk food advertising. Adverts for fast food and takeaways appear more than twice as often as any other type of food and drink adverts on TV during family viewing time.

There seems to be no escape from the junk food marketing all around us. All of this is creating a warped Christmas. A Christmas where we purchase many more treats than we would ever think about during the rest of the year.

Surely there are more responsible ways that Christmas can be marketed to us that still allow us joy, celebration and some indulgence without 9000 calories worth of indulgence!

Let’s not keep creating a Warped Christmas.