Poor diet and excess weight remain a significant public health challenge in Scotland. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has further underlined the associated health risks with poor diet and has emphasised pre-existing health inequalities. The importance of public health has never been clearer as is the continued need to better support people to have a healthy diet and weight.
I have a vision of a Scotland where everyone eats well and we all have a healthy weight. But achieving this is not straightforward. There is no single step nor quick fix that can address our dietary challenges. We need a comprehensive range of actions to deliver significant and lasting change.
The food environment is a key factor which influences the daily food choices we make, both in and out of home. Promotion of less healthy food and drink can significantly influence our dietary choices. Unfortunately the food environment remains skewed towards them. This encourages us to purchase more than we need and to over-consume. It is not surprising we continue to struggle as a nation to meet our dietary goals. We consume too many calories and too much fat, sugar and salt and not enough fruit, vegetables and fibre.
In 2018, we consulted on restricting the promotion and marketing of food and drink that has little or no contribution to a healthy diet, where they are sold to the public, to help us consider legislation. We paused our plans because of the pandemic, recognising the need to understand, as far as possible, the impact of these unprecedented circumstances on business and consumer behaviour.
As we now look forward, we committed in our 2021/22 Programme for Government to bring forward legislation during this Parliament to restrict 'unhealthier food and drink promotions'.
I am pleased to launch this consultation which seeks further views on our proposals, and takes into account the outcome of the previous consultation. This further consultation provides a chance to hear views on how best to restrict food and drink promotions. This includes how we should take into account changes over the past few years in meeting our aim to reduce the public health harm caused by over consumption of food and drink high in fat, sugar or salt.
We consult to make better policy. Your views will help us to ensure that our policy is proportionate, and likely to deliver beneficial outcomes for public health. Your responses will inform development of legislation and impact assessments. I would like to thank you in advance for your contribution.
Maree Todd, MSP
Minister for Public Health, Women's Health and Sport
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