Council backs ban on ‘go large’ promotions to tackle obesity crisis

Food promotions that encourage customers to “go large” on fast food meals should be banned and healthier alternatives promoted instead, a local authority has said.

Dundee City Council is expected to approve the move as part of its response to the latest nationwide consultation aimed at improving Scots’ diets.

Food Standards Scotland is gathering views on what can be done to try to curb the nation’s obesity problem.

Dundee City Council’s response to that – which is expected to be approved by the authority’s community safety and public protection committee – outlines its support for proposals including boosting consumer access to reduced portion sizes, changing recipes, and applying calorie labelling on menus, signs and online adverts.

The draft response stated calorie labelling would be “likely to encourage some consumers to moderate their consumption of the most calorific foods”.

Plans to urge businesses to drop practices that encourage over-consumption were also backed in the council’s response.

Its explanation for backing the measure read: “Businesses need to cease practices that encourage over-consumption.

“This will require defining carefully which practices encourage over eating.

“Multipacks and ‘go large’ promotions on meals and drinks should be banned. Healthy meal deals could be promoted.

“Campaigns can include celebrity endorsement of healthy eating TV cooking programmes; FSS (Food Standards Scotland) website promotion and better use of social media to encourage consumers to use calorie counting apps on their mobile phones”.

Heather Peace, head of public health nutrition at Food Standards Scotland, welcomed the input from the council and urged other businesses and consumers to respond.

Ms Peace said: “We are delighted that Dundee City Council are planning to take part in our Out of Home consultation.

“We would also encourage other organisations and consumers to have their say so we can gather as many views as possible before the consultation ends on February 28 to inform our Out of Home Strategy.”

NHS Tayside dietetic consultant in public health nutrition Joyce Thompson said the proposals could help to tackle the obesity crisis.

Ms Thompson said: “NHS Tayside is aware that food eaten outside the home currently makes up a significant part of people’s diets and therefore welcomes the Food Standards Scotland’s consultation on proposals to improve the out of home food environment.

“The proposals, which include consideration of portion sizes, calorie information on the menus, improving quality of food sold out of home, and shifting marketing and promotion strategies from unhealthy products to healthier options, offer important steps in the solution to tackle overweight and obesity.”