Our comment on the Government Programme for Scotland 2019-20

04 September 2019

We are delighted that the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2019-20 includes a commitment to bring forward a Bill on Restricting Foods Promotion for introduction in next year’s Legislative Programme. We hope that this framework bill will lead to comprehensive regulations that restrict promotion of unhealthy products in Scotland and ultimately result in healthier food environment in Scotland.

Promotions of food through price or placement have a great impact on what we buy. 36% of what goes into our shopping baskets are items on price promotion.  We also know that promotions make us buy more, and that retailers promote less healthy products more often.

We also welcome the commitment to lay before Parliament a Good Food Nation Bill to provide a statutory framework to support the Good Food Nation ambition. Such a piece of overarching legislation could offer the opportunity to employ a food systems approach, which is recommended by a growing number of organisations, academics and world experts in this field. It could enable policy coherence across agriculture, nutrition, health, trade, climate and the environment.

Finally, we welcome the initiative to make school food healthier by setting maximum limits for consumption of red processed meat, increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables served, reducing the amount of sugar available throughout the school day, and encouraging the use of fresh, local and sustainable produce.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland said, “We have been calling for regulation to tackle the ubiquitous promotion strategies which encourage us to buy junk food. We are therefore delighted that the government has committed to legislation in this area. This is an important and significant step in ensuring we can change the food environment for the better and make it easier for Scottish people to access healthy food.”

Obesity Action Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to take and support comprehensive actions to reduce obesity in Scotland, actions that reflect complex causes of obesity, including improving food environment:

  • Restrict all promotions of unhealthy products
  • Restrict advertising and sponsorship associated with unhealthy food
  • Improve out of home food environment in Scotland, including calorie labelling on the menus and choice of smaller portion sizes
  • Support the UK reformulation programme

These are the measures that, if implemented together, will help to reduce the level of obesity in our country and help achieve the ambition of halving childhood obesity by 2030.