Reducing health harms of foods high in fat, sugar, or salt: consultation analysis

Independent analysis of the responses to the consultation on proposals to restrict the promotion and marketing of foods high in fat, sugar, or salt, and have little to no nutritional benefit.

2. About the respondents and responses

Number of responses received 

2.1. The consultation received 728 responses. This included one duplicate response (a respondent submitted an original response and then a second, fuller response) and one blank response. After these were removed, the analysis was based on 726 responses. 

Submission of responses


2.2. Respondents could submit an online response by completing the response form hosted on the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space. In total 692 respondents used this facility to submit their response.

Email or post

2.3. Respondents could also submit their responses directly to the Scottish Government’s Diet and Healthy Weight Team by email or post. 36 respondents (all organisations) submitted their response by this route. It should be noted that unlike responses received via Citizen Space, those submitted by email or post were not compelled to select a tick box answer option (where relevant). In addition, 6 organisations that had submitted an online response also sent a duplicate copy by email.[23]

About the respondents 

2.4. Responses were submitted by 632 individuals (87%) and 94 organisations (13%). 

Organisation respondents

2.5. A list of the organisations that responded to the consultation is provided in Annex 4. For the purposes of the analysis, the organisations were grouped in to two categories – non-industry (n=55; 59%) and industry (n=39; 41%). The composition of these categories is shown in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1 Organisation types

n % of total
Non-industry Organisations (n=55, 59%)
Public Sector 31 33%
Third Sector 10 11%
Other[24] 14 15%
Industry Organisations (n=39, 41%)
Manufacturer 17 18%
Industry representative body 14 15%
Retailer 7 7%
Out of Home provider[25] 1 1%
Total 94 100%

2.6. It should be noted that generally industry respondents were less likely than non-industry organisations to specify an overall viewpoint (i.e. give a tick box answer). Where this was the case, however, some gave a qualitative response that expressed concerns or suggested alternative approaches. While the wording used was not sufficient to imply disagreement in regards to the tick box answer, in effect their responses were closer to disagreement with restrictions than agreement. In this respect, it is possible that the frequency of disagreement with restrictions/ approaches reported is an underestimate.

2.7. While the Scottish Government invited a variety of Out of Home stakeholders to comment on the consultation, only one organisation response was submitted on behalf of an Out of Home provider. Since the views of one organisation cannot be stated to be representative of the views of the Out of Home sector and to avoid unfair focus on the views of one respondent, the response were combined in to the retailer category.

Individual respondents

2.8. It was not always clear what interest or knowledge was held by individual respondents. The comments submitted within a number of responses indicated the individual respondent worked in public health or weight management, had personal experience of issues related to overweight/obesity or medical conditions impacted by HFSS food consumption (such as type 2 diabetes). It was also apparent that a number of individuals took a stance against the proposals on the principle that they did not believe it was appropriate for the Scottish Government to make restrictions in relation to what the population chooses to eat.

2.9. Among the latter, it should be noted that responses generally did not address the specific proposals relating to each question and instead repeated the view that there should be no restrictions. The written responses by a small number of these respondents at times implied misunderstanding of the proposals as references were made to the foods themselves being restricted/banned/altered as opposed to the restrictions relating to the promotion and marketing of the foods. Throughout the report, clarification is provided on where disagreement is general in nature (i.e. due to overall disagreement with mandatory measures) and where it is specific (i.e. relating to the specific approach/issue being considered within the proposals). Further, these responses are not considered within analysis of any question where the response submitted did not provide a direct answer to the question posed.[26] 

Responses to individual questions 

2.10. It should be noted that not all respondents answered all the questions in the consultation questionnaire and that at times the responses to a given question related to other questions or to a related topic not directly covered by the consultation. Not all respondents that provided a multiple choice response went on to explain their answer. Where a respondent did not tick an answer option but provided a written explanation highlighting concerns or considerations their point of view has been incorporated into the report at the most appropriate place. 

2.11. Details on the number of respondents who answered each question are provided in Annex 5, but should be interpreted as indicative as opposed to providing a precise response rate. Overall, responses to the multiple choice questions were higher than the open questions.

2.12. Responses to the final question – providing the opportunity to outline any other comments – varied greatly and, where appropriate, have been integrated in to the findings for the other questions.



Back to top