The UK Government has backed away from bold action in a disappointing Childhood Obesity Plan published today 18th August 2016.
We were promised a comprehensive strategy with the potential for UK wide action on the food environment. What we have is a weak plan that ignores the top two actions of the Government’s own experts (Public Health England, PHE). PHE had recommended reducing and rebalancing price promotions and reducing marketing and advertising to children and adults.
We need to see restrictions on marketing and advertising and we need to see price promotions of unhealthy foods in supermarkets phased out. Without these actions, shops will continue to be places that encourage people to buy more calories than they need.
Where does this leave us in Scotland? The SNP included a commitment to a new diet and obesity strategy in their manifesto for the 2016 election and Food Standards Scotland earlier this year indicated that they would consider regulation and action on price promotions and portion size. TV advertising is a reserved matter but we must explore with Scottish Government what other marketing and advertising actions they can propose
Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said “The UK Government have backed away from bold action in today’s plan. We are calling on Scottish Government to be brave and to move ahead with firm actions to change our food environment in Scotland. Scotland has led the way internationally on other initiatives to protect public health in the past including the smoking ban. Now is the time for Scotland to step up and show that level of leadership again by changing the food environment to ensure the healthy choice is the easy choice. Scottish Government should move ahead to regulate on price promotions and portion size and implement all the necessary actions to turn this problem around.”