Obesity and Cancer Awareness Week: Price Promotions

10 October 2017

Evidence linking obesity and cancer is increasing and it is now known that overweight and obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking.

Obesity is also linked to 13 types of cancer including 2 of the most common, breast and bowel, and 2 of the hardest to treat, pancreatic and oesophageal.

With this growing body of evidence it is becoming increasingly urgent that we address the factors that are creating an obesogenic environment in Scotland (the term obesogenic, according to the Collins English Dictionary, means “pertaining to or tending to cause obesity”). This means taking action to reduce the promotion of junk food (processed foods high in salt, sugar and fat).

Price promotions increase the amount of food people buy by about one-fifth. In Scotland 40% of all food and drink purchases are made on price promotion - twice as high as levels seen in other European countries. Researchers from the University of Stirling suggested that price promotions together with advertising were the most salient forms of marketing to young people.

A survey of the impact of food and drink marketing on young people in Scotland found that 74% of promotions were for ‘junk foods’. In fact, 54% of all marketing-prompted-purchases were related to a price promotion with over a third of those (35%) being sugar-sweetened beverages, chocolate or sugar based confectionery.

As evidence of the links between obesity and cancer get stronger we can no longer continue to perpetuate environments that encourage and facilitate unhealthy lifestyles that can lead to overweight and obesity.

As part of Obesity and Cancer Awareness Week we’re calling for the Scottish Government to use regulation to tackle price promotions on junk foods as part of the forthcoming Diet and Obesity Strategy.

Statistics in this post have been taken from our briefing paper entitled ‘OBESITY and PRICE PROMOTIONS’ which is available to download as a pdf.