Restricting promotion of foods causing child obesity

child obesity, HFSS
© Radub85, shelf of chocolate goods in a shop

The 12-week consultation on child obesity asks should there be more restrictions on how retailers promote food and drink that is high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS)

The UK government negotiates new rules to limit retailers using promotions and deals, which are observed to enable excessive consumption of HFSS food and drink by children.
The consultation asks people to give their views on:

  1. Restricting multi-buy promotions of HFSS products, such as ‘buy one get one free’
  2. Restricting promotions of HFSS products at checkouts, end of aisles and store entrances

The consultation is part of chapter 2 of the government’s childhood obesity plan. It will seek views from the public and industry on the potential measures, alongside whether exemptions should be made for small businesses so they are not penalised by the rules.
Currently, 1 in 3 children is overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. Despite the complexity around obesity, experts are clear that the root cause is consistently consuming more calories than needed.

The new rules would only apply to deals that promote HFSS food and drinks that are most often consumed by children. They would not stop discounts on household essentials.
Businesses would also still be free to offer discounts for individual sales of HFSS items, as this does not require consumers to buy more in order to benefit from savings.

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said:

“Preventing ill health is critical to our Long Term Plan for the NHS, and I want to do everything in my power to keep people healthy for longer. This must start with the health and nutrition of our children.

Tackling childhood obesity means working together across society, with industry, public services and families all having a role to play. All too often we hear people say less healthy foods are cheaper and easier but that is simply not the case.

This is about ensuring businesses are doing their part to shift the balance and help children and families eat healthier options like fruit and vegetables.”

The government plans to reduce England’s rate of childhood obesity within the next 10 years by encouraging healthy eating at primary level and reducing high sugar levels in food and drink.


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