Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, is questioning comments by Scotland’s public health minister that the government is prepared to get tough with food companies and big retailers in a bid to tackle obesity.
A BBC investigation, Scotland the Fat, has found the number of Scots getting weight-loss surgery is more than three times the rate of 10 years ago. A Mori poll for the programme found more than half of Scots rely on ready meals or takeaways at least three times a week.
Parliamentary Questions by Alison Johnstone earlier this year showed that the Scottish Government has failed to act on key recommendations in its Obesity Route Map, and that its advisory group is concerned that efforts to tackle unhealthy food may “over-burden” industry.
Alison Johnstone said:
“I’d like to see ministers put their money where their mouth is. There’s little evidence that they’re prepared to get tough with the corporate interests that are undoubtedly worsening our obesity problem.
“Earlier this year I asked ministers what they are doing to encourage retailers to stock smaller portions of snack foods, as recommended in their Route Map published three years ago. They admitted they’re still working on what voluntary action retailers could take.
“Add to that the abysmal failure of the Scottish Government to fulfil its pledge to increase the proportion of spending on walking and cycling, and it is clear our obesity problem will only get worse with such a lack of leadership.”
Public health minister quoted:
“We’re taking forward a range of measures that we want to see them [the food and retail industry] taking action on, and if they don’t, then we’re prepared to legislate where necessary.”
The group discussed the voluntary agreement on diet and noted “industry may feel over-burdened” and “industry would want clarity on the Scottish Government’s side of the bargain”.