OOH sector needs regulating to reduce obesity

Food Standards Scotland has attacked the country’s foodservice industry for failing to deliver healthier options and fuelling obesity. The “food and drink provided by this sector is skewed towards less healthy options”, FSS noted in papers published this month.

The regulator – which unlike in England has additional responsibility for diet – called for an “overarching strategy to make food eaten outside of the home more healthy”.

This could well include wide-ranging new regulations, including targets to increase the availability of healthier options, mandatory calorie labelling on menus, reductions in portion sizes and new laws on the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks.

Indeed, FSS seems to be growing tired of voluntary agreements: “Given clear evidence of lack of progress towards our Scottish Dietary Goals, together with current and projected unsustainable prevalence of overweight and obesity, maintaining the status quo is not an option,” the watchdog said. “Without regulation to address the obesogenic food environment, insufficient progress will be made in Scotland.”

The case must now be for the industry to “justify not regulating”, FSS added as it gave the food industry 12 months to come up with more effective voluntary agreements.

FSS admitted it's foodservice companies had been reluctant to engage on the issue. “We have written to and met with a number of large OOH businesses on the basis of our evidence, although disappointingly not all have responded or offered to arrange face to face meetings with us.”

Footprint approached both the British Hospitality Association and the Institute of Hospitality for comment. Neither responded.

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