Scotland politics

Call to curb junk food and alcohol advertising in Scotland

Junk food Image copyright Thinkstock

A "culture of excess" in alcohol and junk food advertising is harming Scotland's health, doctors have warned.

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland said regulation was weak, driving obesity and alcohol problems, while the NHS "picks up the pieces".

The BMA has joined calls for stricter licensing, including a ban on TV adverts before the 21:00 watershed.

The Scottish government has written to Westminster calling for the ban, which the Tories branded "a brainless idea".

Tougher regulation

Dr Peter Bennie, chairman of the BMA Scotland, said: "Despite the serious health harms associated with excessive alcohol consumption and obesity in the UK, these industries use marketing to promote consumption of their products.

"The cost of alcohol to our society is significant and, inevitably, the NHS picks up the pieces.

"Obesity rates too are worryingly high, driven by the promotion and availability of unhealthy foods.

"Obesity brings with it increased risk of a wide range of serious life-threatening and chronic diseases. While doctors have a role to play in supporting overweight patients, there is a limit to what they can do.

"The UK government could take decisive action to change the culture of excess that the junk food and alcohol industry promotes, and tougher regulation of advertising would be a positive first step."

Barbara O'Donnell, deputy chief executive at Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "Although current rules prohibit alcohol advertising around children's programmes, alcohol adverts are allowed during early evening family viewing when the largest number of children watch television."

Children surveyed were more familiar with alcohol brands than biscuits, crisps and ice cream, she added.

'Nanny state'

Control over broadcast advertising is reserved to Westminster.

Scottish Public Health Minister Maureen Watt has written to UK government ministers calling for alcohol and junk food advertising to be prohibited before the TV watershed.

"There is a wealth of research which shows that children seeing these adverts while they are watching their favourite family programmes respond positively towards them and they affect their behaviour," she said.

"That's something that needs to be addressed."

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said: "This brainless idea is more evidence of an SNP which thinks state always knows best."

He added: "It's not Nicola Sturgeon's role to act like a deranged head nanny in the SNP's increasingly scary nanny state."

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