Eating Not Feeding: Transforming School Meals

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Are the local government election candidates in your area supporting our campaign to transform school meals from a feeding culture to an eating culture?

On Thursday 20th April 2017 Obesity Action Scotland asked local government election candidates to make a commitment to our four recommendations on school meals
1. Use unprocessed or minimally processed foods wherever possible
2. Prioritise vegetables, soup and salad over puddings
3. Reduce free sugar content towards Scottish Dietary Goals
4. Create a positive physical and social environment for school meals

We have sent a copy of our report to each candidate in Scotland and many of them have started to pledge their support to our #eatingnotfeeding campaign. Have the candidates in your local area?

Two thirds of primary school pupils in Scotland eat school meals. School meals provide a unique opportunity to drive the dietary change we need to see in Scotland and act as an exemplar for healthy eating.
Obesity affects one in every four adults and almost one in five children in Scotland. People of normal weight are now in the minority and poor diet is a key driver of this.
Launched on Thursday 20th April, our report found that the school dining experience varies dramatically across Scotland and Obesity Action Scotland is seeking change to ensure no school or child is left behind. All too often children are offered puddings high in sugar and menus regularly offer processed foods. We found that Scottish primary schools serve puddings more often than soup and these puddings have an average of 14g of sugar.

“We are calling on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals across Scotland to ensure children have a healthy and happy experience with food. We would urge members of the public to ask their candidates if they have pledged to support our campaign” said Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland, “Change is possible and we are calling for greater priority and attention to school meals to ensure we offer all our children the best start in life.”

The following representatives are available for telephone interview
• Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead, Obesity Action Scotland
• Dr Anna Strachan, Policy Officer, Obesity Action Scotland
Please contact Lorraine Tulloch on 07469 238922 or lorraine.tulloch@rcpsg.ac.uk to arrange an interview.

Download the full School Meals Report

Follow us on Twitter: @obesityactionsc

April 24th 2017

Transforming School Meals

Serving School Meals

From a Feeding Culture to an Eating Culture

Today, Obesity Action Scotland is calling on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals in Scotland from a feeding culture to an eating culture.

We are asking national and local governments to place greater value on school meals and create an eating culture by following our four recommendations for action:

School Meals 4 Actions

Two thirds of primary school pupils in Scotland eat school meals. School meals provide a unique opportunity to drive the dietary change we need to see in Scotland and act as an exemplar for healthy eating.

Obesity affects one in every four adults and almost one in five children in Scotland. People who are normal weight are now in the minority and poor diet is a key driver of this.

Our report, launched today, found that the school dining experience varies dramatically across Scotland and we are seeking change to ensure no school or child is left behind. All too often children are offered puddings high in sugar and menus regularly offer processed foods. We found that Scottish primary schools serve puddings more often that soup and these puddings have an average of 14g of sugar.

“We are calling on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals across Scotland to ensure children have a healthy and happy experience with food” said Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland, “Change is possible and we have highlighted areas where that change is starting to happen, but more action is needed and greater priority and attention needs to be given to this subject to ensure we offer all our children the best start in life.”

Scottish Children’s Diet

SchoolMealsStar

The diet of Scottish children is generally poor, failing to meet dietary goals. School meals provide the opportunity to turn this poor diet around and have a positive influence on the health of children growing up in Scotland. In 2015 school age children ate only 2.7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day compared to the five portions recommended and only 14% of school aged children ate oily fish once a week.

Free sugar intake is highest in children aged 4 to 18 compared to all other age groups. This means school age children are consuming three times the recommended level of free sugars.

The main sources of free sugar for children are cakes, biscuits, cereals, soft drinks, fruit juice, sugar, preserves, confectionery, yogurt, fromage frais and other dairy desserts. Our research indicates that items such as cakes, cookies, sweetened yogurts and other desserts in school meals could be significantly contributing to this excess intake of free sugars in children.

Obesity in Scotland and the Need for Action

Living in obesogenic environments where relative inactivity and overconsumption of energy dense foods is too available, affordable and accepted is fuelling the current obesity crisis. Although personal choices are important, obesogenic environments create dangerously high levels of obesity in the population and have a powerful effect on a child’s diet, physical activity levels and obesity.
Last year, 10% of Primary 1 children in Scotland were at risk of obesity. Consequences of childhood obesity are striking. They include stigma and discrimination, mental health problems, musculoskeletal complications, heart disease, stroke and common cancers later in life. All result in worse quality of life.

Preventing obesity in childhood is far preferable to attempting obesity treatment later on, because returning to normal body weight and maintaining this weight loss is more difficult for people who already have obesity.

Find out more about obesity, its causes and effects on this website.

Download the full School Meals Report

Follow us on Twitter: @obesityactionsc

April 20th 2017

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 lorraine.tulloch@rcpsg.ac.uk 

Obesity Action Scotland is on Twitter at: @obesityactionsc

9th March 2017

CRUK Highlights the Obesity Crisis

Cancer Research UK logoToday Cancer Research UK is drawing attention to the effect of multi-buy promotions of junk food in supermarkets. Price promotions across the retail sector increase the amount of food we buy by around one-fifthi.

This extra food would not be bought if it was not for the promotions.

Multi-buy promotions are one element of the environment that promotes overeating and choosing unhealthy foods over healthy ones. Yesterday the Health and Sport Committee of the Scottish Parliament announced that it supported regulatory or fiscal action to reduce price promotions on unhealthy foods.

It is now time for the Scottish Government to ensure that this becomes an integral part of the forthcoming Diet and Obesity Strategy.

We need to reduce price promotions of unhealthy food and start promoting more healthy products. At the moment we are nudged towards unhealthy food choices every time we shop. We need to create an environment where shopping, eating and staying healthy is easier.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead at Obesity Action Scotland said:

“We need to create an environment where the healthy option is the easy option when shopping or eating out. Price promotions lead to us buying and eating more than we intended and since they are most frequently for unhealthy foods they are having an impact on everyone’s weight. We need to see bold and ambitious action from Scottish Government to tackle price promotions, restrict advertising and sponsorship and control portion size.”

We are calling for the Scottish Government’s Diet and Obesity Strategy to include the following actions for the retail and out of home sector:
1. Regulation to tackle price promotions on unhealthy foods
2. Restricting advertising and sponsorship associated with unhealthy food
3. Regulations to control portion size
4. Support for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to be implemented and monitored
5. Support for the UK reformulation programme to be implemented and extended

Please contact Lorraine Tulloch, Obesity Action Scotland on 07469 238922 or lorraine.tulloch@rcpsg.ac.uk for further information

Obesity Action Scotland is on Twitter at: @obesityactionsc

Visit CRUK's web page - Obesity and cancer: a live debate in the Scottish Parliament

24th January 2017


i PHE, Sugar Reduction, The Evidence for Action, 2015

Health Committee Calls for Scottish Government to Tackle Price Promotions

Today the Health and Sport Committee has called for a bold approach to tackle obesity in Scotland. 

We welcome their support for Scotland to take the initiative to tackle this health problem with bold actions.
In particular, the Committee has supported the calls of many organisations, including ourselves, for regulatory or fiscal controls to tackle price promotions and in-store placement of junk food.

The Scottish Government must now take immediate steps to include regulatory measures to improve the food environment within the forthcoming Diet and Obesity Strategy.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead, Obesity Action Scotland said:

“We are delighted that the Health and Sport Committee have recognised and supported the need for action to tackle price promotions of unhealthy foods. We know that price promotions lead us to buy more than we intended and consume more than we intended. We need to ensure that the healthy choice is the easy choice for everyone.”

We are calling for the Scottish Government's Diet and Obesity Strategy to include the following actions for the retail and out of home sector:
1. Regulation to tackle price promotions on unhealthy foods
2. Restricting advertising and sponsorship associated with unhealthy food
3. Regulations to control portion size
4. Support for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to be implemented and monitored
5. Support for the UK reformulation programme to be implemented and extended

Please contact Lorraine Tulloch, Obesity Action Scotland on 07469 238922 or lorraine.tulloch@rcpsg.ac.uk for further information
Obesity Action Scotland is on Twitter at: @obesityactionsc

23rd January 2017

Another Year, Same Story - Primary 1 BMI Statistics

Today, 14th December 2016, ISD published the annual Primary 1 Body Mass Index Statistics for Scotland . And unfortunately it is the same old story. No change, no improvement.

ISD report coverWhen epidemiological thresholds in the BMI distribution were used to classify children’s weight, 77% of Primary 1 children in Scotland were classified as healthy weight in school year 2015/16.
The percentage of primary 1 children at risk of overweight and obesity has been fluctuating between 21 and 23% over the last 10 years. In 2015/16 the figure was 22%.
We cannot be complacent about this. We have not seen significant reductions. BMI distribution among primary 1 children in Scotland has remained broadly similar over the last 10 years.

Obese children are more likely to be ill, be absent from school due to illness, experience health-related limitations and require more medical care than normal weight children. Overweight and obese children are also more likely to become obese adults, and have a higher risk of morbidity, disability and premature mortality in adulthood.
We must take urgent action to address this so that we start to see significant reductions in the number of children affected.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said “Unfortunately the data published today indicates that there has been no improvement in the rates of obesity and overweight in children entering primary school in Scotland. It is all too easy to become complacent about this repetitive message on obesity but we all need to understand that childhood obesity is a ticking timebomb of health problems.

This situation can no longer continue. If the Scottish Government is serious about increasing the proportion of children of healthy weight then they must take immediate action to support families to make the healthy choice the easy choice. We must tackle the factors that get in the way of eating healthily. We would call on Scottish Government to take immediate action to restrict price promotions of unhealthy food, tackle the marketing, advertising and sponsorship of unhealthy food and regulate to control portion size. Only by taking such brave and bold action will we begin to see families empowered to eat more healthily.”

View and download the report or click the image above.

15th December 2016

Scotland Be Brave

COPlanCoverThe 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 has backed away from bold action in today’s plan. We are calling on the 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 necessary actions to turn this problem around.”

Please contact Lorraine Tulloch, Obesity Action Scotland on 07469 238922 for further information.
We are on Twitter @obesityactionsc - join our conversation.

18th August 2016

CAP Launches New Rules on Junk Food Advertising

Junk food advertising contributes to how, and what, children eat everyday, making it difficult for them to make the healthy choice.

New rules on junk food advertising to children are to be announced on Thursday 8th December 2016 by the Committee on Advertising Practice. These new rules follow a consultation process undertaken earlier this year. We welcome this step to introduce further regulation which will restrict advertising online, in cinemas and in print material.

However, it is concerning that there appears to be a number of loopholes, similar to those we have seen in TV advertising, which will mean a significant number of children will continue to be exposed to advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt.

We are concerned that the new restrictions only apply when it can be shown that at least 25% of the audience are children. We know that many younger children access popular social media sites despite the “official” age restrictions yet the demographics show that the majority of social media users are not children, thereby creating an unnecessary loophole. We will need to see the details to ensure this is not the case.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said:

“Children aged 5-15 can spend up to 15 hours a week online so we are delighted to see steps to protect them from junk food advertising. However, the new proposals only go part way towards tackling the relentless exposure to junk food our children face. By including a condition that at least 25% of an audience must consist of children, many popular social media sites and other sources of advertising will not be covered.

With one in four children in Scotland overweight or obese we need effective measures to protect our children’s health. Junk food advertising must be tackled as a matter of urgency.”

Please contact Lorraine Tulloch, Obesity Action Scotland on 07469 238922 for further information.
We are on Twitter @obesityactionsc - join our conversation.

18th August 2016

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

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.”

European Obesity Day: Action for a Healthier Future

European Obesity Day 2016 logoSaturday 21st May 2016 is European Obesity Day with its theme of ‘Action for a Healthier Future’. Organised by the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO), European Obesity Day will see events taking place across Europe to highlight the public health crisis caused by obesity.

With 2 in 3 Scottish people aged between 16 and 64 classed as obese or overweight, there is an urgent need to take steps to turn the tide on obesity.
In recent years, the underlying trend in adult obesity has been increasing, especially amongst pregnant women, while obesity in children, once very rare, has become an increasing cause for concern for the future health of Scotland. Added to this, research has now identified a growing inequality element to obesity, with lower socio-economic groups seeing faster increases in obesity. 

Why is obesity an issue?

Every year obesity causes 337,000 premature deaths in Europe.

Excess body fat is not just a store of energy. Fat cells produce various hormones and chemicals which are carried by blood around the body. They increase the risk of eleven different cancers and Type 2 diabetes. Obesity is linked to; complications of pregnancy, impaired fertility in women and men, cardiovascular disease, problems with breathing, diseases of the digestive system and musculoskeletal system and also with increased depression and anxiety.

Taking Action for a Healthier Future will require a concerted effort by everyone, from government to individuals. Government policy can help to create a food environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice and individuals should have the options and knowledge to allow them to make choices which will not have a negative impact on their long-term health. For individuals, eating a little less every day, in balance with nutritional needs is the best measure that we can take if we are overweight – and that means most of us.

Obesity Action Scotland is calling for all MSPs across the new Scottish Parliament to commit to FIVE measures to tip the scales in favour of healthy weight.

  1. Implement actions that will achieve healthy weight in Scotland 
  2. Explore how price and regulation could improve the Scottish diet
  3. Reinvest revenue from the sugar tax into initiatives to help children achieve healthy weight
  4. Position the public sector to lead by example in tackling obesity
  5. Create a framework to reduce sugar and fat content of food to improve the Scottish diet

On Wednesday 18th May the Queen's speech mentioned the proposed levy on sugary drinks and this is an important first step in changing the food environment. We would call for further bold action from UK and Scottish Government to tackle obesityFor advice on how to lose weight, visit NHS Choices where there is advice on developing healthier eating habits and increasing physical activity levels. To know more about the levels of sugar in foods, download the Sugar Smart app. 

#EOD2016 and #ScotlandvsObesity

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.

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”

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