Sixty five percent of adults and 29% of children are overweight or obese in Scotland – and the figures are higher in our poorest areas, particularly for children. The out of home sector has a major role in tackling the nation’s levels of overweight and obesity. Often food consumed in out of home settings are high in fat, salt and sugar and easily consumed. In 2015, there were 948 million visits to out of home establishments in Scotland. Across the UK we eat between 20-25% of our total calories out of home and adults who eat takeaway meals at home at least once per week consume 63 to 87 kcal more per day. In children, a weekly consumption of takeaway food is associated with consuming 55-168 kcal more per day. More than 91% said cheap fast food is too easily available.
Claire Hislop, Organisational Lead for Diet and Healthy Weight at NHS Health Scotland, said:
“One of the main reasons so many people are overweight in Scotland is because our surroundings make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. In the past 10 years alone there has been a 53% increase in places to eat out of home. This has been coupled with a significant increase in the numbers of people choosing to eat out on a regular basis across Scotland.
“Eating out is big part of our culture. We have a right to know what we are eating and to be able to choose healthier options. Providing options such as smaller dishes and information on nutrition, at point of choice can help make this happen. Our own research on measures that encourage retailers to provide more healthy options shows that it can be done. We also know that the public support changes that would do this. In our study of attitudes to obesity in Scotland, 91% of people said that cheap fast food is to easy available and more than 82% of people support action to make the food they like to eat better for them.
“NHS Health Scotland therefore welcomes the launch of Food Standards Scotland’s Out of Home strategy as a significant step in changing the food environment in Scotland.”