Cut price deals fuel unhealthy diets

Junk food fears web

Parents have said junk food promotions tempt them into buying unhealthy food, a charity survey has found

2nd September 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The majority of parents in Scotland have blamed cut price junk food deals as the main reason for tempting people to buy unhealthy food at the supermarket, a new charity poll has found.

Offers such as Buy One Get One Free are influential in getting people to buy junk food, according to 90% of parents surveyed by Cancer Research UK.

At a time when more than a fifth of four and five-year-old children in Scotland are overweight or obese, the charity has called for immediate action from the Scottish Government. 

The move has also won the backing of the Scots parents surveyed. Around six in 10 parents (61%) said that they backed plans by the Scottish Government to restrict price promotions on foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt.

Drawing on extensive research into obesity, Cancer Research UK insists legislation to restrict junk food price promotions would be effective. The charity is urging the Scottish Government to announce in this week’s Programme for Government that it will introduce legislation this year.

The charity’s cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld, who is based at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Sadly Scotland’s weight problem is becoming ever obvious and it’s clear from this survey that the public recognise the damaging impact of price promotions.

“The Scottish Government has a role to play to help us all eat a better diet. The introduction without delay of world-leading laws to prevent price promotions from continuing to fuel Scotland’s obesity epidemic would be an important step towards turning the tide on a crisis that’s damaging the health of so many people across Scotland.

“At a time when more than a fifth of very young children in Scotland are carrying too much weight and almost three in ten adults across the country are obese, the case for swift action couldn’t be more compelling.

“The health consequences of Scotland’s obesity epidemic are profound. An obese child is five times more likely to be an obese adult and carrying too much weight is linked with 13 different types of cancer.”

The YouGov survey also revealed that more than three quarters of Scots parents (77%) agreed that the price of unhealthy food was contributing towards people being overweight and obese.

As well as BOGOFs, an overwhelming majority of parents (88%) surveyed said that price deals that reduced the cost of junk food – for example 50% off – influenced what people bought.

Excess weight is Scotland’s biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking. Around 2,200 (7%) cases of cancer a year in Scotland – around six a day – are down to being overweight or obese.

Professor Steve Turner, Scottish officer of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Aberdeen, is backing Cancer Research UK’s campaign. He said: “Childhood obesity causes health problems for children. Obesity often continues from childhood into adulthood and adult obesity is a major preventable risk factor for cancer and is associated with a wide range of illnesses and premature death.

“With far too many of our children carrying too much weight today, there’s no time to waste as we try to prevent ill health in today’s children and tomorrow’s adults. In the next 12 months, the Scottish Government must do more to support families by introducing legislation to restrict the harmful price promotions that persuade shoppers to stock up on high calorie junk food.

“In Scotland, too much sugary food and drink is purchased on price promotion. The tide must be turned on this. The future health of Scotland’s children depends on it.”