Supermarkets in England should be banned from displaying unhealthy foods and drinks on checkouts or using them in buy one get one free offers, as part of a government crackdown on obesity.
Health activists hailed the planned restrictions as a “bold first step” in Downing Street’s promised campaign against obesity.
Payment restrictions will apply to other locations that increase sales, such as store entrances or at the end of aisles. Similar rules will apply for websites, banning unhealthy food sales links in places like home pages or on checkout or checkout pages. Restaurants will no longer be able to offer free sugary drink refills.
The restrictions will not go into effect until April 2022 and will be subject to a consultation process first.
The promotion rules, which would also stop all bulk purchase offers on foods and beverages high in fat or sugar, would only apply to the largest retailers, those with 50 or more employees. The limits on where unhealthy foods can be located are for stores larger than 2,000 square feet, with exemptions for specialty retailers such as chocolate stores.
Follow Boris Johnson’s commitment earlier this year to reduce levels of excess weight and obesity. Johnson made the commitment after his serious coronavirus attack, which the prime minister believed was compounded by the fact that he was overweight.
The plans were well received by campaign groups, and Action on Sugar said ministers should resist any lobbying efforts by the food industry.
Professor Graham MacGregor, chair of the group, said: “Finally, Downing Street is acting decisively with a bold first step to restrict the sale of junk food in multi-buy deals and at the checkout, and taking on one of the biggest threats For Britain’s Future Health: Childhood Obesity “.
Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance, which groups more than 40 health organizations, medical schools and campaign groups, said the hope was that healthier foods would be promoted.
She said: “Retailers won’t be able to tempt us to impulsively buy cans of candy at supermarket entrances … The new rules won’t apply until mid-2022, so the retail and food industry has plenty of time to prepare. and shift their promotions to healthier foods and beverages. “
Diabetes UK policy chief Helen Kirrane said the restrictions were a “positive step in helping people across the UK make healthier choices when it comes to their grocery store.”
The definition of foods and beverages that are high in fat or sugar will be based on existing guidelines, but includes items such as chocolate and candy, chips, soda and sugary drinks or juices, cakes, pastries and puddings, cookies, cereals, yogurts. , pizza, ready meals and chips.
Instead of saving people money, the government argues, promotions for unhealthy items tend to mean that people simply buy more, while displays at the end of the aisle can increase soda sales by 50%.
“Creating an environment that helps everyone eat healthier food more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation,” said Jo Churchill, the minister of public health.
In England, 63% of adults are overweight or obese, while a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese.
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