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Cutting down portion sizes is one of the solutions suggested by the FSS

The Scottish government has announced it will take “urgent action” to improve the health of food eaten outside the home, after praising retailers and suppliers for their voluntary reformulation efforts.

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) has published a new report calling on caterers and other out-of-home providers to recognise the impact of their sector on Scotland’s diet.

The report shows that eating out in Scotland has increased and is skewed towards less healthy options.

Food and drink such as beefburgers, chips, fried chicken, ice cream and sugary drinks are more likely to be consumed by children in Scotland, compared with what is consumed by adults in Scotland and children in the rest of Great Britain, it says.

The report says the out-of-home sector “has to be part of the solution to tackling obesity” and FSS says it is “seeking co-operation” from the sector to introduce a number of measures to help combat high fat, salt and sugar in food and drink, including reformulation, reducing portion sizes, and providing more consumer information.

The move comes with the UK government also under pressure from the food industry to create a level playing field with the out-of-home sector in its reformulation crackdown under the Childhood Obesity Plan.

“We are pleased with the increased positive engagement between Food Standards Scotland and the retail and manufacturing sectors over the last six months, and I now look forward to further engagement with providers of food and drink eaten outside the home,” said FSS chief executive Geoff Ogle.

“The big challenge is that the nature of the food and drink consumed out of home in Scotland is still skewed towards less healthy choices. As well as encouraging individuals to choose healthier options when eating out, it is vital that businesses also play their part, through reformulation of products to reduce calories, fats, sugars and salt, reductions in portion sizes and less promotion of products that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Otherwise 40% obesity levels in Scotland are going to be a certainty.”