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Cancer charity calls on Scottish Government to curb junk food special offers

Susan Shaw and grandson Oscar Beatt and Professor Linda Bauld outside the Scottish Parliament
Susan Shaw and grandson Oscar Beatt and Professor Linda Bauld outside the Scottish Parliament

Too much junk food is on special offer, according to Scottish parents.

Parents are being persuaded by supermarket deals to fill their trolleys with bargain-buy junk food, new research by Cancer Research UK has found.

A survey asked how offers on groceries that are high in sugar, salt or fat influenced Scots’ shopping habits.

The results were startling, with around nine in 10 – 89% – of parents believing supermarket promotions impact on what they buy.

Cancer Research UK is calling on the Scottish Government to urgently restrict offers on unhealthy food to make it easier for people to make healthier choices.

The poll also shows the offers could be having a profound effect on what type of foods parents are feeding their families.

Almost 57% of parents polled said promotions lead them to buy more junk food than they really want.

The survey also reveals that more than 71% of parents think too much junk food is on promotion, with 75% linking the balance shifted towards healthier items.

The polling was carried out to explore some of the possible reasons why Scotland is in the grip of an obesity epidemic.

And with obesity linked to 13 different types of cancer, the leading charity is demanding strong action from the Scottish Government when it publishes its obesity strategy later this year.

Cancer Research UK cancer prevention expert Professor Linda Bauld, who is based at the University of Stirling, said: “These offers are persuading parents to ignore their shopping lists and buy cheap unhealthy food in large quantities.

“And if that junk food sits in our kitchen cupboards, we’re tempted to keep reaching for it, even if it’s been bought as a treat.

“The consequence of this fatty and sugary food can be seen on growing waistlines across Scotland.

“As part of its expected obesity strategy, the Scottish Government has an opportunity to help families make it easier to keep a healthy weight.

“By restricting special offers on unhealthy food and drink, we can make our shopping baskets healthier.”

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