While Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is pleased that the UK Government has today published its Childhood Obesity Strategy for England, we feel that the proposed range of measures does not go far enough in addressing current diet-related health issues. Whilst the Strategy sets out plans for England, it rules out some measures such as advertising restrictions which are reserved, meaning they have an impact in Scotland. This is why Food Standards Scotland’s proposals on tackling poor diet in Scotland, first published in January and re-emphasised in our Strategy, Shaping Scotland’s Food Future, published yesterday, go further. It is vitally important that we give children the best possible chance in life. Unless we take action now, we risk condemning our children to the same habits and poor diets that have led to current obesity levels of 30%, and on this current trajectory, projections that 40% of the population in Scotland will be obese by 2030.
In January, the FSS Board recommended a package of measures to Scottish Ministers with proposals including fiscal measures and regulation around food and drink promotions, if the food industry cannot achieve effective change by voluntary means. Portion size reduction and tougher targets for reformulation of foods and drinks were also recommended. It is disappointing that, despite the clear benefits that could be achieved with a UK-wide approach to tackling obesity through advertising and marketing, there was no discussion with Scotland before the UK Government decided not to pursue this option. FSS believes that wide ranging and meaningful measures are needed to improve dietary outcomes, and that a holistic approach is vital in tackling obesity. This is an issue for us all, and collaboration between Government, industry and individuals is essential to ensure Scotland turns the tide, and is a healthy, prosperous nation for the future.
FSS Chair Ross Finnie said: “Any proposals to move towards improved diets and better health are to be welcomed, but today’s announcement by the UK Government simply does not go far enough. It is particularly disappointing that some crucial measures such as taking action on promotions and on advertising and marketing have been ignored. In January, the FSS board agreed such a package, with proposals ranging from taxation to regulation around food and drink promotions. Portion size reduction and tougher targets for reformulation of foods and drinks were also recommended. We expect industry to engage with us on our more comprehensive approach rather than just the more narrowly drawn plan of the UK Government.”