Obesity campaigners have urged the Scottish Government to press ahead with a Bill to ban multi-buy offers on junk food.
Ministers previously promised legislation to ban cut-price offers on high-sugar, high-fat food with little nutritional value – but this was paused last June after the coronavirus crisis hit.
Cancer Research UK said being overweight or obese was the second biggest preventable cause of cancer in Scotland after smoking, and is responsible for about 2,200 cases annually.
A YouGov poll commissioned by the charity indicates that eight in 10 people think “buy one, get one free” deals make people more likely to fill their baskets with junk.
Almost two-thirds of Scots are overweight or obese, according to Food Standards Scotland.
Behavioural scientist, Professor Linda Bauld, the charity’s cancer prevention expert, said the Government has a “significant role here, to protect the health of future generations by supporting people to choose healthier options in their weekly food shop”.
The public health specialist added: “We know that supermarket cut-price and multi-buy offers are a big influence on what we buy, encouraging people to stock up on high calorie food with no nutritional value.
“Once it’s stacked up in our kitchens, it’s easy to keep reaching for it.
“It’s time for the Scottish Government to once again forge ahead with this legislation which would do a great deal to improve the nation’s health.
“Any hold-up in introducing these measures will be at the expense of our nation’s life chances, as well as adding to the ever-growing burden on the NHS.”
The Scottish Pantry Network, a social enterprise providing affordable healthy food at seven locations across Glasgow, backed the calls.
Its co-founder, SNP councillor Mandy Morgan, said: “Helping families make healthy choices is at the heart of our mission to tackle food poverty.
“By offering fresh food for an affordable price, the pantry offers a sustainable alternative to the junk food deals which fill supermarket shelves but don’t fill our bodies with the essentials we need.
“Everyone should be able to access quality food, no matter where they live or how much money they have.
“Our pantries offer that option for some of the most deprived communities in Glasgow, but we want to start a wider conversation about the affordability of food and how that influences the choices we make in our diets.”
The poll carried out for Cancer Research by YouGov was based on an online survey of 1,002 adults in Scotland between July 26 and 30, with the figures weighted and representative of all Scottish adults, the charity said.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We want to make it easier for people to make healthier choices and to reduce health harm caused by poor diet and excess weight.
“We know that junk food promotions encourage over-consumption and impulse buying.
“We remain fully committed to introducing legislation on restricting promotions of foods high in fat, sugar or salt as soon as possible, taking into account the impact of the pandemic.
“Plans for future legislation are set out in the annual legislative programme announced in the Programme for Government.”