Healthy Eating, Active Living: An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity (2008-2011)

Healthy Eating, Active Living: An action plan to improve diet, increase physical activity and tackle obesity (2008-2011)

6 Health Improvement Social Marketing Strategy

Following a review of health improvement social marketing conducted by central government and our partners in Scotland a new strategic approach to communications addressing the health needs of Scotland's population has been adopted. Within this a range of health improvement topics (including diet, physical activity, healthy weight, alcohol moderation, breastfeeding, smoking, sexual health and mental wellbeing) will be treated as part of an interconnected, mutually reinforcing healthier living message. This strategy is one of the means by which we can tackle health inequalities in Scotland. It will be based on research into the health priorities of more deprived groups and the messages most likely to motivate them. Key to its success is communicating recommendations that feel realistic and benefits that are clear and concrete.

The approach aims to empower and enable people to make achievable and lasting changes in their lives; and is explicit about real health benefits of behaviour change in terms of preventing serious chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Central to this strategy is the role of positive mental wellbeing, both in helping people feel ready to make healthier choices and as a genuine pay-off of leading a healthier life.

The first campaign targeting adult audiences in the new strategy, Take Life On, was launched on 1 June 2008. This campaign covers physical activity, healthy eating, alcohol moderation and wellbeing. The key message of Take Life On is that simple everyday changes, based on ten practical steps (see below) will improve our health and make us feel more positive. The first wave of Take Life On is promoted through television, radio and billboard advertisements, and a website But critical to our strategic social marketing approach is underpinning these with a longer train of below the line approaches to reinforcing the messages. Campaigns on further health improvement topics will follow in subsequent waves and we will also develop proposals for a parallel youth health communications strand.

1. Base your meals on starchy foods (wholegrain where possible)

2. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables (try to eat a varied 5 portions a day)

3. Eat more fish (including a portion of oily fish each week)

4. Cut down on saturated fat

5. Cut down on sugar

6. Try to eat less salt (limit of 6g per day for adults)

7. Get active and try to be a healthy weight (aim to achieve a total of 30 minutes brisk walking or similar activity 5 times a week)

8. Drink plenty of water (6 to 8 glasses of water) or other non-alcoholic fluids every day

9. Watch your alcohol intake (aim to have 2-3 days without alcohol every week)

10. Read the labels (especially to help reduce how much salt, sugar and saturated fats you eat)

  • We will continue to work with our partners to implement the Health Improvement Social Marketing Strategy.
  • Of course we do not have the market to ourselves and the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt are a concern. Food companies can and often do play an important and positive role by taking a responsible attitude to the ways in which they market their products to children. However, we support the stance that there should be a pre-9pm ban on TV advertising for foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt as defined using the Food Standards Agency's nutrient profiling model.
  • We will liaise with Ofcom and the UK Government in support of this change. In addition we will examine further opportunities to limit the promotion of unhealthy food to children.
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