Call for con­trol on sales of junk food

Alarm­ing fig­ures show city’s mums-to-be not of a healthy weight

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - GARETH MCPHER­SON

Calls have been made to curb junk food sales af­ter it emerged fewer than a third of preg­nant women in Dundee are of a healthy weight.

The per­cent­age of preg­nant women with a healthy BMI in Dundee was the low­est in Scot­land at 31.7%. Na­tion­ally the fig­ure is 42%.

The char­ity Can­cer Re­search UK said the fig­ures, both na­tion­ally and lo­cally, are con­cern­ing.

Linda Bauld, a pro­fes­sor with the char­ity, said: “Tack­ling obe­sity is com­plex but laws to re­strict su­per­mar­ket multi-buy of­fers on junk food would be an ef­fec­tive mea­sure, help­ing ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing mums-to-be, from fill­ing their shop­ping trol­leys with foods high in fat and su­gar.”

The fig­ures re­leased by NHS Scot­land yes­ter­day also showed more than a fifth of Dundee women were smok­ers when they had their first an­te­na­tal ap­point­ment in 2016-17, 50% higher than the Scot­tish av­er­age.

One in five preg­nant women in Dundee smokes, new fig­ures show.

The Births at Scot­tish Hos­pi­tals re­port also re­veals that fewer than a third of ex­pec­tant mums in the city are a healthy weight – which is the worst in the coun­try.

A can­cer char­ity said the NHS Scot­land fig­ures for 2017-18 are “deeply con­cern­ing” and called for le­gal re­stric­tions on multi-buy deals for junk food and more cash to help peo­ple quit cig­a­rettes.

In Dundee, 21.2% of women re­vealed they were smok­ers at their first an­te­na­tal book­ing ap­point­ment, which nor­mally takes place within the first three months of preg­nancy. That com­pares with 18.7% in both An­gus and Fife, and 16.2% in Perth and Kin­ross.

Min­is­ters said smok­ing rates were fall­ing, adding that they were look­ing at re­stric­tions on the pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing of junk food.

The per­cent­age of preg­nant women with a healthy BMI in Dundee was the low­est in Scot­land at 31.7%. Na­tion­ally the fig­ure is 42%.

Ed­in­burgh pro­fes­sor Linda Bauld, from Can­cer Re­search UK, said: “Tack­ling obe­sity is com­plex but laws to re­strict su­per­mar­ket multi-buy of­fers on junk food would be an ef­fec­tive mea­sure, help­ing ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing mums-to-be, from fill­ing their shop­ping trol­leys with foods high in fat and su­gar.”

Call­ing for more sup­port for the Quit Your Way ser­vice, the can­cer pre­ven­tion ex­pert said: “We need to en­sure fur­ther in­vest­ment in this vi­tal ser­vice if we’re to sup­port more preg­nant women to achieve a smoke-free preg­nancy.”

Health Sec­re­tary Jeanne Free­man said they were work­ing on an ac­tion plan with NHS Health Scot­land to hit home to women the im­por­tance of a healthy weight and diet, as well as the dan­gers of to­bacco and al­co­hol.

The SNP MSP added: “To tackle our na­tion’s dam­ag­ing re­la­tion­ship with junk food, we are also con­sult­ing on re­strict­ing the in-store pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing of food that is high in fat, su­gar or salt but with lit­tle or no nu­tri­tional ben­e­fit.”

There can­not be too many peo­ple un­aware of the dan­gers of smok­ing when preg­nant.

Like­wise, the fact that poor diet and obe­sity are far from de­sir­able would sur­prise no­body.

So why do so many peo­ple in so­ci­ety re­main in the grip of such vices?

It is a com­pli­cated equa­tion – sug­ges­tions that poverty has a part to play in poor diet may have some seed of truth, but as for smok­ing? Given the cost of cig­a­rettes, it is hardly a life­style choice for the least well off.

Yet, the num­ber of preg­nant smok­ers, in Dundee at least, re­mains stub­bornly high.

Ac­cord­ing to a new study some 20% of preg­nant women in the city smoke.

It is a shock­ing statis­tic.

As is the fact that fewer than a third of ex­pec­tant mums in Dundee are a healthy weight – the worst in the coun­try,

Ed­u­ca­tion cer­tainly has a role to play, but there are now sug­ges­tions that more blunt in­stru­ments may be re­quired.

One pos­si­ble mea­sure would see new re­stric­tions on multi-buy of­fers where junk food is in­volved.

As with the min­i­mum pric­ing for al­co­hol, this will in­evitably lead to claims the vast ma­jor­ity of re­spon­si­ble peo­ple are be­ing forced to foot the bill for ef­forts to pro­tect the tiny mi­nor­ity who strug­gle to main­tain healthy habits.

It is a tricky co­nun­drum – it will be in­ter­est­ing to see what the lat­est in a long line of “ac­tion plans” ul­ti­mately sug­gests.

Pic­ture: Mhairi Ed­wards.

Can­cer Re­search UK is con­cerned that one in five preg­nant women in Dundee smokes.

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