The Scottish Government has been urged to press ahead with a bill to ban multi-buy offers on junk food
Charities have urged the Scottish Government to deliver on plans to ban multi-buy offers on junk food.
A new poll for Cancer Research UK showed the majority of people in Scotland (80%) felt that price promotions, such as buy one get one free, made people more likely to stock up on products high in fat and sugar.
The YouGov poll also showed that more than seven in 10 (72%) of those who said that they are not currently a ‘healthy weight’ would find it ‘very’, or ‘quite’ difficult to reach a healthy weight.
In light of these new figures, Cancer Research UK says that legislation restricting junk food price promotions, previously paused due to the pandemic, must be brought back urgently to tackle obesity.
Being overweight or obese is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in Scotland, after smoking, and is responsible for around 2,200 cases each year.
The charity’s cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld, who is based at the University of Edinburgh, said: “The results of this new poll are cause for considerable concern.
“These figures suggest that people feel it’s difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Our unhealthy shopping environment is partly to blame for that.
“The Scottish Government has a significant role here, to protect the health of future generations by supporting people to choose healthier options in their weekly food shop.
“This month’s Programme for Government is an opportunity for the SNP to make good on its election promise to include legislation to restrict promotions on junk food. We strongly urge them to do this.”
The Scottish Government had previously committed to introduce its Bill on Restricting Foods Promotions in the 2020/2021 parliamentary year.
However, these plans were shelved in June 2020 due to the pandemic.
It was hoped that this bill would enable the restriction of price promotions of junk food, including multibuy offers such as buy one get one free. Promotions in prominent areas like the end of supermarket aisles and checkouts would also have been restricted.
Professor Bauld added: “We know that supermarket cut price and multi-buy offers are a big influence on what we buy, encouraging people to stock up on high calorie food with no nutritional value. Once it’s stacked up in our kitchens, it’s easy to keep reaching for it.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to once again forge ahead with this legislation which would do a great deal to improve the nation’s health.
“Any hold up in introducing these measures will be at the expense of our nation’s life chances, as well as adding to the ever-growing burden on the NHS.”
Evidence shows that people who live in more deprived areas in Scotland are more likely to be overweight or obese.**
One organisation attempting to tackle this is Ruchazie Pantry, a social enterprise that aims to provide affordable, good quality, healthy food to local people in the north east of Glasgow. Anyone can use the pantry by paying £2.50 on their visit, and in exchange they get £10 to £15 worth of food which they choose from the pantry.
In Ruchazie, levels of deprivation are considerably higher than the Glasgow average, with 41% of children living in poverty. Obesity levels among primary 1 children in the area are also a third higher than the Glasgow average.
Ruchazie Pantry was the first of its kind in Glasgow. It is now part of a group of seven pantries across the city, coordinated by the Scottish Food Pantry Network.
Scottish Pantry Network co-founder Councillor Mandy Morgan said: “Helping families make healthy choices is at the heart of our mission to tackle food poverty.
“By offering fresh food for an affordable price, the pantry offers a sustainable alternative to the junk food deals which fill supermarket shelves but don’t fill our bodies with the essentials we need.
“Everyone should be able to access quality food, no matter where they live or how much money they have. Our pantries offer that option for some of the most deprived communities in Glasgow, but we want to start a wider conversation about the affordability of food and how that influences the choices we make in our diets.
“We believe action from government is needed to tackle food insecurity and promote healthy choices, which is why we are backing calls to ban price promotions on junk food and help more people across Scotland access good quality food.”