From April 2022, a number of restrictions will be introduced on unhealthy foods under government plans to tackle obesity in England.
An eight week consultation on the plans was launched on 28 December.
The new restrictions will mean that unhealthy food can no longer be included in ‘buy one get one free’ (BOGOF) promotions or other ‘multibuy’ offers. As well as this, shops will no longer be allowed to stock junk food in prominent places, such as at store entrances and checkouts.
The measures will be applied to foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar, such as cakes, crisps, soft drinks, pizzas and ready meals.
Promotions cost shoppers more money
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said evidence shows that while promotions appear to save shoppers money, they actually encourage people to buy more than necessary.
The DHSC said that the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted the need to encourage healthier lifestyle choices, as being overweight makes the Covid-19 virus particularly deadly.
Jo Churchill, the public health minister, said, “Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation.”
Chair of the Action on Sugar charity, Professor Graham MacGregor, said that the “important policy” will provide a level playing field for responsible retailers, allowing them to promote healthier options.
He continued, “Finally, Downing Street is acting decisively with a bold first step to restrict the sale of junk food on multibuy offers and at checkouts, and taking on one of the biggest threats to Britain’s future health - childhood obesity.”
‘Positive step towards making healthier choices’
Obesity Health Alliance lead Caroline Cerny said, “Taking the spotlight off junk food means the only buy one get one free offers we see will be on healthier foods.
“Retailers won’t be able to tempt us to impulsively buy tins of sweets in supermarket entrances or chocolate bars in clothes shops.”
She added that because the rules won’t apply until mid-2022, the retail and food industry has “plenty of time to prepare and shift their promotions over to healthier food and drinks”.
Diabetes UK head of policy Helen Kirrane said that the restrictions are a “positive step towards helping people across the UK to make healthier choices when it comes to their food shop.”
Restrictions apply to larger stores
The restrictions will only apply to businesses employing more than 50 people, and on locations to store larger than 2,000 square feet. Small stores are therefore exempt from these plans.
Additionally, the government also intents to go ahead with a ban on junk food adverts being broadcast on TV before 9pm.