Scotland takes charge on childhood obesity challenge

Scotland is taking the challenge of tackling childhood obesity into its own hands, after the Scottish government expressed disappointment at the UK government’s childhood obesity strategy, published last week.

The new strategy was a “missed opportunity to protect children from exposure to junk food advertising”, Scotland’s public health and sport minister Aileen Campbell said.

“We have long argued that an advertising ban up to the 9pm watershed would greatly reduce children’s exposure to the marketing of unhealthy foods,” she said. “I am therefore calling on the UK government to rethink its position on this policy or, failing that, devolve those powers to the Scottish Parliament so we can take appropriate steps to benefit Scotland’s public health.”

Food Standards Scotland (FSS), the body responsible for food and nutrition regulation, has already laid out a five-year obesity strategy that includes developing “specific measures to minimise the consumption of ‘discretionary’ foods and drinks, including sugar-sweetened beverages”.

It has also said future policies could include adjustments to the marketing, promotion and formulation of unhealthy products.

FSS chief executive Geoff Ogle said last week that the current trajectory in Scotland meant that 40% of the population would be obese by 2030.

 “While Scotland’s food and drink sector continues to flourish and contribute to the Scottish economy, there remain significant challenges around food, diet and public health,” he said.

“Our efforts must be focused on working collaboratively with stakeholders to address these and other challenges related to the consumer interest, ensuring that consumers’ health and wellbeing is protected.”

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