CANCER campaigners have renewed calls for a crackdown on junk food deals after figures revealed that consumers in Scotland are stocking up 110 tonnes of sugar a day from unhealthy products purchased on discount deals.

Full sugar soft drinks, chocolate bars and sweets accounted for two thirds of the sugar from junk food purchased on promotion in a year, with the remainder made up of biscuits, cakes, pastries, puddings and desserts.

The analysis by Cancer Research UK was calculated based on the total amount of each category purchased by Scottish shoppers in 2014/15, the tonnes of sugar that amounted to and the percentage of these products bought on promotion. It found that the Scots had bought around 39,700 tonnes of sugar from cut price soft drinks and junk foods.

The charity has previously urged the Scottish Government to use its forthcoming obesity strategy to restrict multi-buy offers and related promotions on unhealthy food.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's cancer prevention expert based at Stirling University, said: “Obesity is the unpalatable cost of the cheap deals routinely served up in our shops. It leaves a bad taste to know such an enormous amount of discounted sugar is lining our stomachs and weighing so heavily on the nation’s health. We need urgent action now to prevent thousands of cancers in the future.”

Foods on promotion account for around 40 per cent of all expenditure on food and drinks consumed at home in Scotland.

Prof Bauld added: "We know that less healthy foods and drinks are more likely to be bought on promotion than healthier foods and anyone who regularly navigates the aisles knows how hard offers on junk food are to resist."

Dr Gillian Purdon, Senior Dietary Advisor at Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said it was in favour of interventions to change what it described as an "imbalance of in-store promotions" in favour of healthier food.

She added: “It is clear that a combination of measures will be needed to support improvements in the Scottish diet. As part of that, we recommend interventions to reduce 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.”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy for the Scottish Retail Consortium said: "It’s worth noting the overall number of products being promoted is falling in response to customer demands for simpler pricing. Secondly, many of the products which are characterised as unhealthy are in fact household staples such as cheese and butter – which consumers are keen to buy at the lowest price."

He added that retailers did not oppose "proportionate measures" from government to counteract obesity but stressed that interventions must target the whole food and drink industry, not just supermarkets and newsagents, to create a "level playing field" for shoppers.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government continues to engage with the food and drink industry on action to offer healthier choices, including rebalancing promotions and reducing added sugar.

“We recognise the need to shift the emphasis from dealing with the consequences of a poor diet to tackling the underlying causes, which is why we have consistently called on the UK Government to ban junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed."