Limits on junk food promotion could help combat cancer

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A University of Stirling professor is leading calls for the Scottish Government to restrict supermarket promotions on unhealthy foods which contribute to obesity and related cancers.


A new survey by Cancer Research UK found that 89% of parents in Scotland believe supermarket promotions impact what they buy. With more than half (57%) stating that multi-buy offers lead to them buying more junk food than they really want, the charity is pushing for restrictions on such promotions.

Professor Linda Bauld, Director of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling and a Cancer Research UK cancer prevention champion, said: “These offers are persuading parents to ignore their shopping lists and buy cheap unhealthy food in large quantities.

“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 strategy, the Scottish Government has an opportunity to help families make it easier to keep a healthy weight. By restricting offers on unhealthy food and drink, we can make our shopping baskets healthier.”

More than two thirds (71%) of parents think too much junk food is on promotion in supermarkets, and three quarters (75%) of those surveyed would like to see the focus shifted towards healthier items.

The Scottish Government is expected to publish its obesity strategy later this year. With obesity linked to 13 different types of cancer, Cancer Research UK is demanding strong action which its research results show the majority of parents support.

Background information

Survation poll of 1,037 Scottish adults, of which 312 are parents (16+), in June 2017, on their attitudes towards purchasing junk food. Data collected 9th-13th June 2017.

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