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Restaurants to cut portion sizes as obesity crisis looms


Shona Robison has announced a government strategy to tackle obesity in Scotland which includes plans to force restaurants to cut portion sizes, encourage supermarkets to remove sweets from tills and ban fast food outlets near to schools.

Public health minister Shona Robison unveiled the Scottish government’s strategy to tackle the problem as a report predicted the number of Scots classed as obese would double to 40 per cent by 2030 if current trends continued.

She said: “Obesity is a huge threat to Scotland’s future and we are committed to tackling this. No country in the world has successfully addressed obesity - and we want Scotland to be the first.”

The government is concerned that the rising cost of tackling obesity will hit public finances and make it more difficult to achieve sustainable economic growth.

Costs are expected to increase six-fold from the current estimated spend of £457m a year to £3bn a year by 2020.

The cost to the NHS of treating conditions linked to obesity, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, is currently estimated at £175m, the equivalent of 2 per cent of NHS Scotland’s entire revenue budget.

Indirect costs, such as sickness absence, are estimated at £282m to the taxpayer.

Ms Robison, speaking during a visit to a healthy eating breakfast club at St Mark’s Primary School in Barrhead, East Renfrewshire, said: “We cannot expect people to be able to change their behaviour alone as the environment we live in today means that for most people weight gain becomes almost inevitable.

“Excellent work is already under way but we have to go further and make serious changes that will transform our entire living environment.”


What does the Scottish Government plan to do to combat obesity?

  • Work to ensure portion sizes better reflect consumers’ energy needs
  • Work with the retail industry to make sure that promotional activity on food and drink promotes healthy eating
  • Work to expand the range of healthier choices in convenience stories and remove confectionary displays from till points
  • Explore measures to restrict the amount of high calorie foods sold near schools
  • Ensuring that personal travel opportunities is a high priority in all land development plans and development management decisions
  • Provide safe routes to schools for children who wish to cycle or walk
  • Encourage employers to support staff in adopting more active means of travelling to and from work

Readers' comments (4)

  • Denise lockyer

    Smaller portion sizes are the answer. I, like many others have been discussing this with patients for a considerable time.
    Have starters instead of main courses etc. But ,why does one have to make a different choice? It's bad enough that they have to actively reduce their calorific intake increase because the portions sizes are considerably larger in main course restaurants. I just hope that the restaurants reduce the price as well. After all why do most people finish their 'plateful'? Because they do not want to waste good money, and the cycle continues.
    Less waste (as per government directive) and this will include the fulfilment that all the personal boxes have been ticked!

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  • Although I understand obesity is a problem, most people including myself use restaurants as a treat. My family (none of whom are even over weight)like to go out and feel full at the end of our meals, why do we have to have smaller meals (no doubt we'll be charged the same amount) just because other need to lose weight. People need to learn to discipline themselves in the home, live a healthy lifestyle, health home cooked food (not diet) and exercise,then they can go out, now and again, for a treat.

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  • Denise lockyer

    Totally agree, but perhaps the disciplined are the minority here. I myself am disciplined like you. I find in practice that nutritional and exercise education in the ‘front line' is the key, For example, I have noticed that some sections of the population tend to favour more treats at fast food outlets for example where they offer 30% more for pennies extra. I notice that the industry is forever confusing the consumer with conflicting and often misleading information on packets etc.
    But I agree, self discipline, I think, needs to be ‘reinvented’ for many individuals, It can be done for most, so encouragement for those who do not possess it..

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  • I think that you will find that most restaurants I go to already have smaller portions available called Light Bites and surely it is up to the individual what they want to eat? I don't know many people who eat that frequently in restaurants, so why when you treat yourself to a meal out do you have to limit your consumption if you don't want to? When I take my mother out she cannot manage the full size portions so always has the child sized portion, this "Big Brother" attitude of Labour is really getting impossible to accept, we are turning in to "Animal Farm" !have you seen the size of some MP's, they are not all light weights! another case of "do as I say, not do as I"do

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