SUPERMARKETS must abandon multi-buy promotions on junk food to help prevent obesity amid claims consumers cannot be trusted to make “good” decisions about their diet, say experts.

Food Standards Scotland said there needed to be a retail revolution to help shoppers make healthier choices and tackle the looming obesity crisis.

Retailers needed to take “radical steps” to change the way food was displayed and promoted in stores, it said.

The food watchdog cited damning research that warned that if current habits remain, the current obesity levels of 30 per cent of Scots would rise to 40 per cent by 2030.

The report, by Stirling University, makes several recommendations, including extending the sugar tax beyond soft drinks and standardising information provision to increase awareness of health risks and help customers make decisions.

FSS senior dietary adviser Dr Gillian Purdon said: “The report supports Food Standards Scotland views and recommendations for the need to extend sugar tax beyond soft drinks, to reformulate products to reduce sugar fat and salt, to resize portions, to address less healthy food promotion and to provide clearer consumer information on products in both the retail and out-of-home sectors.

“This report will help us to develop new approaches to improve the balance of food offered and promoted by the retail sector.

“It is clear a combination of measures will be needed overall to enable healthier eating. Regulation of promotions of high fat, salt and/or sugar food and drink within retail stores and out-of-home premises should be taken forward as a priority.”

The report found that voluntary and self-regulatory approaches or relying on consumers to make “good” decisions are not having sufficient impact.

Cancer Research UK said the report adds to the “chorus of voices calling for action to curb multi-buy promotions on junk food” and called on the Scottish Government to take a “bold” approach in proposals for a new obesity strategy.

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, said the Government would consult on the new diet and obesity strategy this year.

She said: “This will include taking into account the views of a wide range of stakeholders and interested parties and examining what further effective actions we can take within this Government’s powers.”

She said the Government was also engaging with the food and drink industry on the action.

David Thomson, CEO of Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Scotland, said he welcomed any effors from FSS to work collaboratively with the food and drink industry to do its part to tackle obesity.

He added: "However, we believe it is wrong in principle to single out product categories for punitive treatment and therefore we oppose all additional food taxes.

"These kinds of taxes across the world have failed to make any lasting or significant difference to obesity.

"FDF Scotland takes our role in tackling obesity seriously. Food and drink manufacturers from across the UK have been reformulating products and reducing portion sizes for many years - this includes calorie caps for single serve confectionary and reducing sugars in soft drinks.

He added: "Food and drink companies have a legal obligation to tell their customers what is in their food, and ingredients lists and nutrition information are both clearly provided on pack.

"However many go much further by voluntarily providing a simplified version of nutrition information on the front of pack - sometimes with red, amber and green colour coding. This means consumers can easily check, compare and choose foods based on their nutritional characteristics."