There is little sign of Scotland’s diet improving and almost two-thirds of people are overweight or obese, a report has warned.
Food Standards Scotland (FSS) hopes to improve habits with a new online service offering “practical, pragmatic” advice on healthy eating.
The agency has set out its plan for the next five years alongside a report on eating trends called The Scottish Diet: It Needs To Change.
It recommends a range of measures to shift consumers away from high-calorie, sugary foods to healthier alternatives.
The report said 50% of the sugar Scots consume comes from “discretionary foods” bought in shops.
In spite of a fall in sugary drinks around the introduction of the “sugar tax” in 2018, purchase of crisps, savoury snacks and confectionery has increased.
The report said: “Despite reductions in average pack sizes of crisps and savoury snacks of around 7%, the overall amount (volume) purchased has still increased.”
Around 32% of the calories we consume are from price promotion deals, FSS said.
The report recommends cutting intake of discretionary foods by 50%.
It notes: “Although nine out of 10 of us agree that obesity is a serious issue in Scotland, at the same time 65% of us are either overweight or obese and most of us believe our own diets to be healthy.”
As well as a new monitoring tool, FSS will launch a “dietary guidance resource to deliver evidence-based dietary advice to consumers in a practical, pragmatic style” in 2021.
FSS chairman Ross Finnie said: “To reduce the burden of obesity and diet-related disease in Scotland, an increasingly agile response to changing food landscapes is critical.
“An imminent focus is the current and future impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on what we buy and eat.
“We will ensure our monitoring role keeps pace, given the clear link between excess weight and poorer outcomes from Covid-19.”
Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “The approach outlined by Food Standards Scotland will play an important part in supporting our vision to create a country where everyone eats well, and we all have a healthy weight.
“Too many people in Scotland face serious risks to their health associated with poor diet and unhealthy weight, and this is an unacceptable situation.
“The Scottish Government looks forward to working with Food Standards Scotland and our many partners on achieving our bold ambition for a healthier Scotland.”