A ban on confectionery displays at the till and restrictions on high-calorie foods in shops near schools are among new proposals which could transform the appearance of convenience stores in Scotland.

The Scottish government plans, which would see stores encouraged to increase their ranges of healthy foods and promote low calorie options, could also influence policy makers in Westminster.

A new report published by health minister Shona Robison, Preventing Overweight and Obesity, estimates that by 2030 four in ten Scottish adults will be obese, at a cost of £3 billion to the nation. 

It says the government will look at measures to control exposure to foods that are high in energy, including moving confectionery displays from till points and requiring stores to change the balance of high-calorie products and healthier choices.

It  also suggests exploring measures to restrict access by children to "nutritionally inappropriate meals and high energy and energy-dense foods"  from shops situated near schools.

The Scottish government said that it would initially pursue a voluntary approach to achieving healthier eating, but it would that it would seek to pass legislation after a 2013 review if this failed. 

However retailers believe that legislation aimed at the point of sale is not the answer.

“The use of a voluntary approach has already led to substantial inward investment and innovation in the fresh produce and healthy foods categories by retailers,” SGF chief executive John Drummond said.

Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) director Ian Shearer added: “Demonising particular foods or pack sizes is not the answer. Enabling and encouraging people to choose balanced diets and recognising the importance of other factors such as education and exercise, is.”

ACS (Association of Convenience Stores) public affairs director Shane Brennan warned that the Scottish experience could be used to inform similar proposals across the UK.

“The health lobby is almost more excited about obesity than alcohol. It will certainly be putting a lot of pressure on the next government to tackle it,” he added. 

Read the full report here

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