News & Updates

Food Standards Scotland update shows little improvement in the Scottish diet

Food Standards Scotland launched two new reports today highlighting the huge challenge for people in Scotland to have a healthier diet and reduce their risk of diet related diseases. The reports show that:

  • 9 out of 10 people agree that obesity is a serious problem in Scotland
  • 66% of people think that cafés and restaurants should display calories on their menus
  • For those who drink, alcohol consumption contributes an average 810-1100 calories each week
  • 49% of the Scottish population would support banning promotions on unhealthy products
  • The decline in sugar from soft drinks has been offset by increases in sugar from other foods

An updated Situation Report from 2015 by Food Standards Scotland – The Scottish Diet: It Needs to Change 2018 shows that 2 out of 3 adults and almost a third of children living in Scotland remain overweight or obese two years on from the original report.  Around 20% of the calories and fats we eat, and around half of sugar intake, still comes from discretionary foods such as confectionery, cakes, biscuits, pastries, crisps and sugary drinks.  The report again reinforces that we need to reduce these by at least a half as a first step towards meeting the Scottish Dietary Goals and improving the nation’s health.

The updated Situation Report also shows that some people in Scotland are consuming large amounts of calories from alcoholic drinks, with average male and female drinkers consuming 1100 and 810 calories a week respectively from beer, wine and spirits. This is roughly half a day’s worth of calories per week.

The second report published by Food Standards Scotland today monitors purchases and price promotions from retailers and shows no real improvement in the amount of calories, fats and sugar purchased in Scotland from 2010 – 2016. The results show that while there is a welcome decline in sugar from soft drinks this has been offset by increases in sugar purchase from other foods.

This research also shows that retail price promotions have recently decreased by around 3%, but continue to be skewed towards less healthy categories. We are still buying 36% of our overall calories on price promotion, and this can be over 40% of purchases in some Scottish retailers. It is concerning that we are encouraged to buy up to three-quarters (74%) of confectionery on a price promotion. 

Geoff Ogle, FSS Chief Executive said:

“These results are disappointing but unfortunately not unexpected. For diets to change we need to see price promotions rebalanced and shoppers encouraged to buy healthier foods with less sugar, fat and salt, by making these more affordable. What is particularly disappointing is seeing the reduction of sugar in soft drinks being negated by increased sugar purchase from other food products. However, we hope to see more improvements in response to the sugar levy and reformulation programme launched in March 2017.

“There is some good news though, as public attitudes are changing, with an increase from 50% to 64% of people in Scotland being concerned about our unhealthy diets, and support for taking action to improve our food environment, including calories to be displayed on menus when eating out of the home. The Out of Home Sector has a key role to play and needs to ensure it doesn’t lag behind other sectors. 

“For this shift change to happen though, we need individuals, industry and Government to work together.”

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said:

“These reports provide yet more evidence that we must take a bold approach to tackling Scotland’s diet and obesity problem, which is why we are developing an ambitious and daring innovative strategy.”

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