Phase Out Price Promotions on Unhealthy Foods

Which Logo

Today Which? publishes data on price promotions in supermarkets, which re-emphasises what we know: the majority of price promotions are on less healthy foods.

Which? also surveyed Scots and found that 53% said that supermarkets should include more healthy choices in promotions to make it easier for people to choose healthier food.
Which? is calling for retailers in Scotland to include more of the healthier options in their price promotions. Obesity Action Scotland supports this call for action but believes that this
has to be through a regulatory framework rather than a voluntary arrangement. 

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland said

“We know that price promotions influence what people buy in the shops and we are delighted to see Which? calling for retailers to take action. We support that call but believe it needs a regulatory framework to be introduced to phase out price promotions on unhealthy foods and create a level playing field for businesses. The House of Commons Select Committee recently heard evidence that price promotions have already been explored through voluntary agreements and no progress had been made due to business competitiveness. The Committee concluded that mandatory measures were needed.”

Lorraine continued

”Earlier this year Food Standards Scotland indicated they would be undertaking work to explore how regulation could be applied in this area. We would call on the Scottish Government to include regulation on price promotions as a key part of the diet and obesity strategy it committed to in its recent manifesto.”

Obesity Action Scotland is calling for a package of measures to create a food environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice. These include:

  • restricting marketing and promotions of unhealthy foods
  • reducing sugar and fat content of foods
  • pricing measures such as a sugar tax
  • improving labelling and portion sizes of foods bought in shops and restaurants

Please contact Lorraine Tulloch, Obesity Action Scotland on 07469 238922 for further information
Obesity Action Scotland is on Twitter at: @obesityactionsc

Original Which? article

4th August 2016

Food Standards Scotland Considers the Scottish Diet

Food Standards Scotland logoWe welcome and support the paper on diet and nutrition that the Food Standards Scotland Board is considering today.
Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said

“The need for action is now urgent and inevitable. A broad alliance of organisations is imploring Scottish Government to take regulatory action on several levels. These organisations include Obesity Action Scotland, other third sector organisations, the Scottish Directors of Public Health, the Scottish Parliament Health and Sport Committee and the Scottish Government’s own national nutrition advisory organisation, Food Standards Scotland.
This is an urgent issue and whilst we wait for action, avoidable cases of cancer and diabetes are being diagnosed in the Scottish population. We need to see bold and ambitious action now to change the food environment to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

For more information, please contact Lorraine Tulloch, Obesity Action Scotland on 07469 238922 or 

Obesity Action Scotland is on Twitter at: @obesityactionsc

9th March 2017

The First Step: Sugary Drinks Levy

  The First Step: Obesity Action Scotland welcomes sugary drinks levy 

We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of a levy on sugary drinks in the Budget. Taxing high sugar products is an important step in tackling Scotland’s
obesity crisis and improving our national diet.

Taxing alone will not be the magic bullet to turn the tide on obesity, so we are calling on the Government to continue their bold action with further measures which will transform our food environment, making the healthy choice the easy choice.

These measures include

  • restricting marketing and advertising to children
  • restricting price promotions
  • reducing sugar and fat content of food
  • improving labelling of products

Scotland has a higher proportion of overweight and obesity than in the other parts of the UK with two out of three Scottish adults being overweight or obese. This presents a growing financial burden to the NHS and the wider economy, making it imperative that further bold action to reduce the number of overweight and obese must be taken now.

The UK Government must now deliver a Childhood Obesity Strategy, due this summer, that is as bold as the announcement we have seen today.

In Scotland, more than 14% of adults and nearly 16% of children’s daily energy intake comes from sugar. This is three times the recommended daily intake of 5%, as recommended by the World Health Organisation. Recent modelling work predicted that a 20% tax on sugar sweetened drinks would reduce the number of obese people in Scotland by 15,200 and a reduction in those overweight and obese of 27,400.

Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland Lorraine Tulloch said: 
“We welcome today's announcement by the Chancellor. We hope this is the first of many bold and brave new initiatives to improve the diet of the people of Scotland. We must ensure the tax is stringent and effective and that the monies raised are invested in effective obesity prevention programmes in Scotland”

Alliance Event Follow-Up

OAS Alliance

Building an Alliance to Tackle Overweight and Obesity in Scotland

The event was held in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow on Friday 22nd April. Guests included academics and obesity researchers, charities such as British Heart Foundation and Diabetes Scotland, NHS, NHS Health Scotland, Directors of Public Health, Food Standards Scotland, Scottish Academy of Royal Colleges, Obesity Action Scotland and other experts.

Why Obesity Matters to Me 
To start the day, attendees discussed why work on obesity mattered to them. There was one recurring theme; attendees wanted to make sure that future generations of Scots live in a world where culture and environment promote health and wellbeing, where healthy choices are easy and made by default, and where fresh, healthy food is widely available, affordable and sustainable.

Sharing Experience

During the event four speakers set the scene and shared their experience.

Dr Andrew Fraser from NHS Health Scotland and Obesity Action Scotland spoke passionately about the obesity crisis in Scotland and concluded that the time is right to set up an alliance and influence the direction of change.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland, explained that the event was called to explore the potential of setting up an obesity alliance in Scotland because obesity is one of the biggest public health threats Scotland faces. An alliance could have a significant impact on progressing policy on tackling obesity through a collaborative approach.

Phil Mackie from the Scottish Public Health Network stressed the urgency of addressing the crisis, pointing out that healthcare demand associated with obesity may soon outstrip the NHS’s ability to sustain its service. He also commented on the very limited success of the Obesity Route Map and suggested we needed a clear, independent voice to help implement it.

Finally, Sheila Duffy from ASH Scotland spoke about leading and being a partner in national and international alliances tackling tobacco issues. She pointed to the many benefits of alliances such as maximising the impact of limited resources, joining up expertise and energy, developing shared messages and shared agendas and having voices from many different sectors and levels to push things forward, making change happen. Sheila concluded that working together offers the opportunity to address some of the complex and inter-related issues on people’s lives, bringing empowerment, information, support and creating environments that allow healthy choices to be made.

During discussions, attendees acknowledged existing successful approaches and actions tackling obesity in Scotland. They pointed to numerous community and local government initiatives focusing on diet, physical activity and healthy lifestyle, obesity research, the bold step of a sugar tax, as well as strong support for creating an obesity alliance in Scotland. Finally, the current political will to tackle obesity was in focus - generated by the constant work of health groups and growing media and public awareness of obesity issues.

Groups of attendees also explored what needed to be stopped, changed or improved to tackle obesity effectively in Scotland.

Some suggestions included:

  • focusing on the environment as opposed to individual choices,
  • shifting food culture in Scotland towards healthier and more sustainable practices,
  • co-designing solutions with communities,
  • improving clarity of health messages to minimise confusion,
  • building further understanding of obesity through research,
  • targeting acceptability, availability and pricing of obesogenic foods,
  • working with the food industry,
  • providing more opportunities for healthier choices and leading healthier lifestyles, making sure that changes are sustainable and long-term,
  • focusing on prevention,
  • making sure that practice meets standards.

The majority of attendees were in favour of an obesity alliance in Scotland, while two were a “maybe”. Group discussions that followed were the first attempt to define and shape the alliance. Suggestions included a safe place for difficult conversations, a place to collaborate, share experience and expertise, good practice and research and to identify research gaps.

Stronger Voice
An alliance would have a stronger voice than the sum of individual organisations’ voices, which would garner greater power to impact and influence policymakers. An alliance with a clear vision and focus would create one strong voice to address the obesity problem in Scotland more effectively. 

Next Steps
As the event indicated strong support for an alliance, the next logical step is to establish a core planning group to lead the development of the alliance and define its priorities. A few of the participating organisations volunteered to be part of that group. We will keep you posted.

Queen's Speech Supports Levy on Sugary Drinks

Image of QueenObesity Action Scotland welcomes the inclusion of the levy on sugary drinks in the Queen's speech today. Taxing high sugar products is an important step in tackling Scotland’s obesity crisis and improving our national diet.

This bold action needs to continue with further measures which will transform our food environment, making the healthy choice the easy choice. Scotland has a higher prevalence of obesity than the rest of the UK and effective measures can bring significant benefits.

Programme Lead for Obesity Action Scotland Lorraine Tulloch said: “We hope this is the first of many bold and brave new initiatives to improve the diet of the people of Scotland and the UK. We must ensure the tax is stringent and effective and that the monies raised are invested in effective obesity prevention programmes in Scotland.”

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