Scottish Government publish Out of Home Action Plan to help food industry tackle obesity

The Scottish Government have published their ‘Out of Home Action (OOH) Plan which outlines steps to work closely with the food industry to help tackle obesity by providing healthier food and drink choices for people. 

The Plan includes proposals for a code of practice for healthier children’s menus and a commitment to a consultation on mandatory calorie labelling. 

These proposals will parts of the new Eating Out, Eating Well Framework which will be developed by Public Health Scotland (PHS) and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) engaging with stakeholders, including industry and local authorities. 

Eating out is common place with almost everyone in Scotland (98%) consuming food outside the home. Nutrition information is often not available for food and drink bought from cafés, restaurants, takeaways and other outlets. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to have a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight.

The Plan commits to support the delivery of Scottish Government’s Good Food Nation ambition and vision and wider food policies, including by incorporating good practice on matters such as food waste, local sourcing and climate change.

The Out of Home Action Plan has been developed following recommendations made by Food Standards Scotland before the pandemic as a result of actions agreed in the Scottish Government’s 2018 Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan.

Public Health Minister Maree Todd said:

“Obesity continues to be one of the biggest and most complex public health challenges. Addressing it remains a priority to create a Scotland where we eat well, have as healthy a weight as we can, and are more physically active. 

“We know that by giving people more information, such as the number of calories in meals, empowers people to make healthier decisions when eating out, or ordering in. This plan proposes bold measures on how we can work with the food industry to create sustainable change to reduce harm to people’s health caused by poor diet and excess weight.

“It remains an unwelcome reality that communities experience health, quality of life and even life expectancy differently across our society and the current health emergency has further highlighted the damaging impact of inequality. The Out of Home Action Plan is a welcome step in working together with partners to reduce health inequalities and support people to live longer healthier lives everywhere in Scotland.”

Food Standards Scotland Chair Ross Finnie said:

“The pandemic has added new focus on the need to address the issues around the Scottish diet, with an estimated two thirds of the population living with overweight or obesity and the costs to the health service of treating the long-term effect of poor diet now estimated to be over £360 million.

“Food Standards Scotland welcomes the news that Scottish Government are making commitments to progress actions with the Out Of Home sector which are essential steps needed to improve the food environment to one that enables healthier choices.

“While we recognise there has been a significant disruption during the pandemic, the rise in take-away and delivery services means it is critical we work with the sector to take steps that support a healthy diet and healthy weight.”

Chief Executive of Public Health Scotland Angela Leitch said:

“We have a shared national ambition in Scotland to be a country where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active.

“Local take away businesses, cafes, restaurants and others in the out of home sector continue to play an important role in supporting changes that will help improve our diet and in turn maintain a healthy weight.

“Public Health Scotland has been working with the sector, the Scottish Government and Food Standards Scotland to identify changes that will support healthier eating. We welcome the publication of the Action Plan and will be working closely with our partners to support its implementation.”

REHIS is a registered charity in Scotland, SC009406

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