Su­per­sized meals and 2-for-1 of­fers will be BANNED un­der SNP law

Scottish Daily Mail - - Front Page - By Michael Black­ley Scot­tish Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

RAD­I­CAL plans to bring in a law to ban junk food pro­mo­tions in shops, restau­rants and cin­e­mas are to be un­veiled by the SNP within weeks.

Min­is­ters yes­ter­day said they will out­line a de­tailed plan to tackle Scot­land’s obe­sity epi­demic, in­clud­ing pro­pos­als to ban ‘buy one get one free’ and other multi-buy pro­mo­tions in shops and su­per­mar­kets.

But they are also ex­pected to pro­pose the ban is widened to in­clude premises such as restau­rants, which could mean fast-food chains banned from en­cour­ag­ing cus­tomers to ‘su­per­size’ and buy larger por­tions for a small fee.

Set meal deals – in which a num­ber of items are bought cheaper to­gether than in­di­vid­u­ally – could also be un­der threat.

Cin­e­mas may also be banned from en­cour­ag­ing cus­tomers to buy huge por­tions of pop­corn and fizzy drinks.

The new strat­egy is also ex­pected to in­clude a ban on the mar­ket­ing of un­healthy foods aimed at chil­dren.

But min­is­ters yes­ter­day ad­mit­ted there is a risk the pro­pos­als could spark an­other ma­jor le­gal bat­tle, as hap­pened with the SNP’s plan to in­tro­duce min­i­mum unit pric­ing for al­co­hol, which has been stuck in the courts for years.

Pub­lic health min­is­ter Aileen Camp­bell con­firmed the plans to bring

for­ward de­tailed pro­pos­als by the end of the year.

This would be fol­lowed by a con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod of around 12 weeks, then the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment would need for­mal leg­is­la­tion at Holy­rood be­fore it can press ahead with a ban.

The con­fir­ma­tion came on the day the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion an­nounced it would tar­get food giants in a ma­jor drive to tackle global child­hood obe­sity.

A new WHO re­port, End­ing Child­hood Obe­sity, urges gov­ern­ments to act to limit the mar­ket­ing of un­healthy high­calo­rie and sugar-laden food prod­ucts and drinks aimed at chil­dren.

It also rec­om­mends sug­ary drink taxes such as the one due to be in­tro­duced in the UK next year, clear front-of-pack­age la­belling list­ing food con­tents and ban­ning the pro­vi­sion of un­healthy food, snacks and drinks in schools.

Speak­ing at a fringe event at the SNP conference in Glas­gow yes­ter­day, Miss Camp­bell high­lighted work by Cancer Re­search UK and Food Stan­dards Scot­land on the need for ac­tion.

She said: ‘They have been very good at ar­tic­u­lat­ing the fact peo­ple don’t have the choice, that they are bom­barded with dif­fer­ent forms of mar­ket­ing ev­ery time they go into a shop, are led down aisles with of­fers like twofor-one and three-for-two, mean­ing peo­ple are in­cen­tivised to buy more calo­ries than they need.

‘Like ev­ery­thing else, it is those that are most vul­ner­a­ble that are most im­pacted.’

She added: ‘I think we also need to be wise to the fact that the bold­ness we showed re­gard­ing al­co­hol and the min­i­mum unit pric­ing has also meant we have had a le­gal fight for the last five years and still not man­aged to get to the end of that.

‘So along­side be­ing bold and am­bi­tious we need to make sure what we do is de­liv­er­able and to be sure that we are ev­i­dence-led, be­cause that will stand us in good stead if we start to be chal­lenged by some of the vested in­ter­ests around food pro­duc­tion.’

Ni­cola Stur­geon’s pro­gramme for gov­ern­ment in­cluded a pro­posal to ‘limit the mar­ket­ing of prod­ucts high in fat, sugar and salt which dis­pro­por­tion­ately con­trib­ute to ill-health and obe­sity’.

But Stu­art Mackinnon of the Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses said in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers have al­ready had ‘a roller­coaster of reg­u­la­tory change in the last five years’ and de­manded ‘a mora­to­rium on new reg­u­la­tion’.

The Scot­tish Re­tail Con­sor­tium has sig­nalled that it could sup­port the move as long as it does not only im­pact on shops and su­per­mar­kets.

In a paper for Food Stan­dards Scot­land, Pro­fes­sor Leigh Sparks of Stir­ling Univer­sity said the re­tail store ‘is a crit­i­cal bat­tle­ground over any im­prove­ment of the Scot­tish diet’.

His re­port crit­i­cised the la­belling on food pack­ag­ing, the prom­i­nent dis­play of un­healthy foods, the low price of some un­healthy prod­ucts and the use of buy one get one free deals and other price pro­mo­tions on food and drink which is high in salt and sugar.

But it pointed out price pro­mo­tions are used in non-re­tail premises, which should also be reg­u­lated, and called for ‘rad­i­cal steps’ to tackle the prob­lem. The re­port said: ‘We con­clude the cur­rent con­text for con­sumer choice in-store is af­fect­ing the health and diet of con­sumers in Scot­land.

‘We need ac­tion to re­bal­ance the pro­vi­sion and pro­mo­tion of prod­ucts in-store and con­sid­er­a­tion given to steps to al­ter the dif­fer­en­tial pric­ing be­tween healthy and un­healthy prod­ucts.’

At the meet­ing, Pro­fes­sor Sparks said the Gov­ern­ment ‘can’t just look at re­tail alone’ and high­lighted that cin­e­mas of­ten en­cour­age peo­ple to buy larger sizes of food and drink.

Jy­ot­sna Vohra of Cancer Re­search UK said 60 per cent of pur­chases of un­healthy food is as a re­sult of a multi­buy pro­mo­tion.

‘We can’t just look at re­tail alone’

OBE­SITY is the ma­jor health cri­sis of our day, a multi-headed hy­dra of a prob­lem that will take in­no­va­tive and com­plex ini­tia­tives to solve.

So is the clunk­ing fist of leg­is­la­tion truly the an­swer?

The SNP seems to think so, bring­ing for­ward plans to out­law ‘buy one, get one free’ pro­mo­tions in shops and su­per­mar­kets.

It is also ex­pected to ex­tend the ban to in­clude ‘su­per-size’ por­tions in fast food out­lets and cin­e­mas may also be banned from en­cour­ag­ing cus­tomers to buy huge por­tions of pop­corn and fizzy drinks.

Ev­i­dence that this sort of crack­down works is skimpy and the Mail would ar­gue that pub­lic in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns to help peo­ple make sound choices can­not sim­ply be aban­doned in favour of new laws.

And al­ready the busi­ness com­mu­nity is con­cerned about reg­u­la­tion over­load.

With our health at stake, it would be a dis­ap­point­ment if well-in­ten­tioned leg­is­la­tion ends up de­liv­er­ing noth­ing but hefty le­gal bills while bogged down in court chal­lenges.

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