BARGAIN-hunting Scots fill their trollies with cut-price junk food containing almost 110 tonnes of sugar every day, it is claimed.

The total comes from supermarket promotions on soft drinks, confectionary, cakes and desserts and is the equivalent to 4.3 million chocolate bars – one each for three-quarters of the population.

The claim comes from Cancer Research UK, which is now urging the Scottish Government to use its upcoming obesity strategy to make unhealthy food less affordable. This includes limiting store price cuts and multi-buy offers on sugary items.

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The charity says items on promotion now account for around 40 per cent of all expenditure on food and drink consumed at home.

It claims more than half of regular soft drinks and confectionary are purchased while on offer, with almost half of puddings, desserts and biscuits also picked up on promotion.

The same goes for almost 40 per cent of cakes and pastries.

Scotland has the highest obesity rate in Europe, consuming more highly sweetened ginger than any other part of the UK. The health problem is strongly linked to socioeconomic divisions, with those in the least affluent households more likely to be dangerously overweight than their wealthiest counterparts.

According to NHS Health Scotland, “women and children in the most deprived areas are particularly affected by more extreme obesity”.

While statistics show that the divisions are less acute for men, with an obesity rate of 28 per cent for poorer areas to 22 per cent for better-off parts, the issue is more pronounced with women. A total of 21 per cent of women in richer homes are obese, compared with 37 per cent in deprived communities.

Obesity is linked to as many as 13 different types of cancer, as well as other serious conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Professor Linda Bauld of Cancer Research UK 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.

“When it publishes its obesity strategy, the Scottish Government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to introduce measures that will have a profound impact on our lives.

“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.

“With studies showing the most deprived in our society are more often obese and less likely to get their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables, much more needs to be done to make healthy options affordable instead.”

A Holyrood spokesperson said: “Tackling obesity is a top priority for this government and we are absolutely committed to reducing the deeply ingrained health inequalities which persist in Scotland.

“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, a move we believe would greatly reduce children’s exposure to the marketing of unhealthy food and drink.”