MINISTERS are planning a crackdown on junk food to address Scotland’s stubbornly bad diet and complement previous curbs on smoking and alcohol.

The government said it wanted to create a “new food culture” by restricting the promotion of foods high in fat, sugar and salt in shops to reduce impulse buying.

Sweets, biscuits, crisps, cakes, pastries, puddings and sugary drinks will be targeted, with a consultation in the autumn about the precise “mandatory measures” involved.

Ministers will also seek views on the marketing of ice-creams and dairy desserts, multi-buys, meal deals, free samples, check-out displays, the use of toys and loyalty card points to promote junk food, and whether to ban the sale of energy drinks to under-16s.

The measures are outlined in a new government strategy which says a mix of universal and targeted steps are needed to address a Scottish diet which “remains stubbornly unhealthy”.

Two-thirds of Scots adults are overweight and almost a third obese, costing the NHS up to £600m a year and lost productivity costing the economy up to £4.6bn.

Obesity is the top preventable cause of cancer after smoking, linked to 2200 cases a year.

The strategy also focuses on early years, with a pre-conception advice to women

SNP ministers will also press the UK government and Advertising Standards Agency to help end junk food advertising within 800m of schools and promotions involving cartoons and celebrities.

There should also be more training for health professionals to refer children and families to parenting support, cooking classes and child health weight programmes if needed.

Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “Far too many people in Scotland face serious risks to their health linked to poor diet and unhealthy weight.

“Scotland has a proud history of taking decisive action on public health and this is the next step in that journey, turning our attention to the nation's diet and weight.”

Professor Linda Bauld of Cancer Research UK said it was vital the plans became law.

“Price promotions play a significant part in what families choose to put into their shopping basket, with over half of confectionary bought in Scotland because it was on special offer."

Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “Much of what is in here, if executed correctly, could make key difference in influencing better diets and more active lifestyles. The key will actually be getting this underway. This has been a government too keen on words, and too shy of action on a range of important topics.”

Labour’s David Stewart urged "radical action", but added: “Working class families who are already struggling should not be penalised - restrictions on food sales must be coupled with a strategy to make healthy options more affordable and efforts to tackle poverty that is the root cause of ill health. "

LibDem Alex Cole-Hamilton added: “Moves to tackle the stubborn Scottish diet, curb our nation’s love of fatty, salty and sugary foods and discourage multi-buys are good news.

“Hopefully new leadership in the health portfolio will bring a new energy to this task.”

However the Food and Drink Federation said there was “no evidence” the proposals would reduce waistlines, and warned ministers would “punish” businesses without make a difference to health.