Mandatory calorie labelling on menus moved a step closer in Scotland this week, as the government unveiled its plans to tackle obesity.
The Scottish Government’s Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan contains a number of measures to restrict the promotion and advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS).
The plan sets out five outcomes, each supported by a range of actions. Outcome two aims to ensure that “the food environment supports healthier choices”.
The government noted: “It is increasingly hard for many of us to eat well and maintain a healthy weight. Not only is food much more energy dense and readily available, but we also live increasingly sedentary lifestyles and are bombarded with seemingly ever-present messages and triggers that encourage consumption.”
Ministers said they wanted to “transform the food environment”. In the autumn they will consult on how to limit the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods.
Restrictions could apply to multi-buys, as well as displays at checkouts and upselling.
Ministers also urged the UK Government to ban advertising of HFSS products before 9pm. They also want to explore whether the voluntary regulations on advertising HFSS foods online could be strengthened.
A consultation will also be launched for a new out of home strategy to support healthier eating. Citing research that showed 91% of people felt it is “too easy and too cheap” to buy fast food, the government said its autumn OOH consultation will focus on how to encourage calorie reduction. It will also look at how consumers can be better informed through calorie information on menus for example.
The government praised the action taken by some companies to promote healthier options, but has concluded that to deliver the pace and scale of change required “mandatory measures are required”.
The plan reads: “Measures to transform the food environment, such as restricting the promotion and marketing of less healthy foods and reducing the energy density of food, are also more likely to be effective in reducing health inequality than measures aimed at encouraging individuals to change their behaviours.”
Campaigners broadly welcomed the proposals. Retailers were not so impressed.