Portion sizes offered by food to go outlets in Scotland are too large and must be capped, a new report by the government-funded research and advisory body Obesity Action Scotland claims.
The calls have already been welcomed by Food Standards Scotland which is set to consult on a new Out of Home (OOH) strategy this autumn.
Average servings of chips alone were up to 80% larger than the official guidance of 210g set out by the Food Standards Agency in 2002, Obesity Action Scotland said.
In addition to new rules to cap portion sizes, it is also calling for more half-size portions, and restrictions on promotions on products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS).
It is also calling on the government to introduce mandatory calorie information on menus and to “limit access to unhealthy food through improved planning and licensing arrangements.”
“As trends shift and lifestyles evolve, we are increasingly becoming a nation of people who consume food prepared OOH,” Obesity Action Scotland said.
“In the last 10 years there has been a 53% increase in places to eat out of home. As the tendency to eat out of home becomes the norm, we need to change the rules on OOH as it is a potential game changer in our collective efforts to reduce obesity levels across Scotland.
“The current OOH food environment in Scotland encourages us to overeat: large portions, little price differentials between portion sizes, marketing strategies focused on less healthy products, and lack of calorie information in most of the out of home outlets.”
Food Standards Scotland welcomed the call.
“The findings are in line with other studies, including our own survey which showed that around a quarter of main meals bought OOH contain more than 1,000 calories, equivalent to half the daily calorie needs of an average woman,” it said.
“Food Standards Scotland will propose measures in a consultation later this year aimed at improving the food and drink available when we’re eating out, including actions to support calorie reduction, improving information for consumers and increasing healthier choices.”
Convenience stores and supermarkets have grown their share of the UK OOH market by 0.2% in the past year, new research from MCA recently showed.