Supporting Healthy Choices: A Framework for Voluntary Action

This framework sets out the action we believe is necessary to shape and better support healthier diets in Scotland.

Putting children's health first

20. Our national outcomes and indicators stress the importance of living longer, healthier lives, for ourselves and our children, with a focus on children being a healthy weight. Each section of this document can have a positive impact on children. However, given the vital importance of diet for children's longer-term health outcomes, we believe that specific proposals to improve children's diet are warranted.

Commitment 1

We invite retailers and out of home caterers to take pragmatic steps to remove confectionery and sugary drinks from till points, checkout aisles and areas around checkouts.

21. We consume large quantities of sugary soft drinks and confectionery in Scotland[6], and children consume proportionally more sugar in their diets than adults. Recent data[7] shows that intakes in Scotland, in line with those across the UK[8], are considerably higher than recommended in the Scottish Dietary Goal for sugar intake.

22. We therefore suggest that all retailers and, where applicable, out of home caterers, take pragmatic steps to remove confectionery and sugary drinks from points of purchase across Scotland to reduce the scope for impulse purchase. These items can be replaced with healthier alternatives. Businesses may wish to take a pragmatic approach when deciding which products they replace. We very much welcome the positive action that some businesses are already taking to do this.

23. Where full implementation is not possible, we encourage businesses to implement this commitment as far as possible and welcome specific action to support healthier choices at and around till points.

24. Savoury snacks contribute significantly to fat and saturated fat intakes in Scotland and they are one of top products contributing salt in retail purchases in Scotland. This should be considered when replacing confectionery and sugary drinks with alternatives.

25. We recognise that this commitment will be more challenging for some, particularly for small businesses and smaller format stores. Support[9] and guidance is available and we would encourage businesses to access these resources to help them take positive action in this area. We will support Scottish Grocers Federation Healthy Living Programme members to work towards alternative solutions to till points on an ongoing basis.

26. The Scottish Government's HealthyLiving Award provides support for out of home caterers to help them offer healthier options for customers. Guidance for the HealthyLiving Award Plus already states that confectionery and crisps should not be positioned next to till points. The Healthy Living Award team will continue to support out of home caterers to meet this requirement.

Commitment 2

The Scottish Government will publish a guide for out of home caterers on healthy options for children's menus by end 2014.

Businesses are invited to use this guide once it is available.

27. We encourage out of home caterers to provide healthy options for children. This could mean providing smaller portions of healthy adult meal options and/or ensuring that salad or vegetables are offered as part of every child's meal. However, many caterers offer specific children's menus. These have strong potential to offer children healthy options with suitable calories, sugar, saturated fat and salt content and appropriate portion sizes.

28. To support healthier catering for children, the Scottish Government will develop a good practice guide for out of home caterers on healthy meal options for children's menus by end 2014. Caterers will be invited to use this guide once it is available.

Commitment 3

We invite retailers and out of home caterers to provide and incentivise healthier meal deals*, especially where customers include schoolage children purchasing lunch.

*Can include breakfast, lunch and dinner meal deals

29. A recent market research report commissioned by FSA Scotland[10] reveals frequent purchasing of calorie rich, high fat/sugar foods and drinks in Scotland, suggesting that there is much to be done to encourage healthier eating out of home. Additionally, research on the nutritional quality of food available in out of home catering in the vicinity of schools has shown these options can contrast starkly with those available within schools[11]. Much of the food children purchase at lunchtime outside of school tends to be high in fat, salt and sugar and is often supplemented with non-diet soft drinks, confectionery and crisps. The consumption of sugar varies with level of deprivation, with those in more deprived areas consuming significantly more. This trend is seen clearly in both at a population level and in children.

30. We recognise that implementation of this commitment could be challenging for some retailers and out of home caterers for a variety of reasons. We therefore propose options for different levels of participation to provide flexibility for businesses which would still demonstrate support. Levels of commitment might include:

  • Level 1: to provide and promote individual healthy components of the meal deal;
  • Level 2: to provide and incentivise healthy meal deals; and
  • Level 3: to offer a majority of healthy meal deals.

31. For those who choose to participate on this basis, businesses are encouraged to progress through the levels as and when they are able. To assist out of home caterers and retailers in identifying and selecting healthier meal options, we have provided guidance on items which could comprise a healthy meal deal in Annex B.

32. The Scottish Government has published Beyond the School Gate[12] which provides guidance for local authorities, schools, retailers and caterers on how they can positively influence the food environment around schools and encourage and support school-age children to make healthier choices at lunchtime and throughout the school day.

33. It is essential that all children have the opportunity to eat a healthy diet from birth. We, therefore, also encourage retailers to consider participating in the UK-wide Healthy Start scheme, which helps pregnant women and children under four from low-income families, to eat more healthily by providing free weekly vouchers to spend on milk, and fresh and frozen fruit. Free vitamin supplements are also available to those in the scheme. Further information, including details of how to register as a Healthy Start retailer, is available at


Email: Leigh Edwardson

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