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Junk food promotions fuel Scotland’s obesity epidemic

Scots gobble their way through 110 tonnes of sugar every day from junk food and sugary drinks bought on promotion. Which equates to the same amount of sugar found in 4.3 million chocolate bars or 3.1 million cans of cola, according to Cancer Research UK.

Soft drinks are the major culprits, with 12,672 tonnes of sugar bought through products on promotion every year. Confectionery comes next (12,336 tonnes) followed by biscuits (7,071) and cakes and pastries (4,209 tonnes).

“Obesity is the unpalatable cost of the cheap deals routinely served up in our shops,” said Linda Bauld, the charity’s cancer prevention expert and professor of health policy at the University of Stirling. “We need urgent action now to prevent thousands of cancers in the future.”

Using data from Kantar Worldpanel’s report, “Food and drinks purchased into the home in Scotland 2016”, the charity found that around half the sweet treats bought are on promotion – for soft drinks and confectionery it was even higher (54% and 51% respectively). The mirrors research by the consumer group Which? last year.

Professor Bauld said the government must take bold action to restrict the promotion of foods that are high in sugar and fat. “When it publishes its obesity strategy, the Scottish Government has a once in a generation opportunity to introduce measures that will have a profound impact on our lives,” she said.

The Scottish government is currently working on a national obesity plan. Its advisers at Food Standards Scotland have urged ministers to introduce tough measures to curb rising levels of obesity. FSS has forecast that obesity levels will rise from 30% today to 40% in 2030 unless “radical steps” are taken.