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UK government planning to ban unhealthy food at checkouts and BOGOF deals

The government has outlined new proposals that could see stores banned from displaying unhealthy food at checkouts or including it in buy-one-get-one-free deals as part of a drive to halve childhood obesity in England by 2030.

The Department of Health and Social Care will also consult on introducing mandatory calorie labelling on menus in restaurants, a ban on the sale of caffeine-laden energy drinks to young people, and new TV and online advertising restrictions to prevent children from being targeted by foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt.  Meanwhile, it will look to incentivise companies to reduce the sugar and calories in the products they sell.

The proposals form part of the government’s updated Childhood Obesity Plan, which was criticised for being too weak when it was launched less than two years ago.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Parents want what is best for their children, but keeping them healthy and active can be difficult.

“It is near impossible to shield children from exposure to unhealthy foods. Parents are asking for help – we know that over three-quarters of parents find offers for sugary sweets and snacks at checkouts annoying. It’s our job to give power to parents to make healthier choices, and to make their life easier in doing so.”

The measures were broadly welcomed by health organisations and experts, although the industry expressed concerns about the prospect of further regulation from government.

After highlighting that manufacturers have already been reformulating their food and drink to make it healthier, Tim Rycroft, FDF Director of Corporate Affairs, said: “The Government has come forward with a new raft of proposals centred around further industry regulation.  While the commitment to full consultation on these measures is welcome, there will be deep disquiet in the food and drink manufacturing sector today.

“Advertising and promotions underpin the healthy, vibrant and innovative market for food and drink that UK shoppers love. If Government restricts our ability to advertise and promote new healthier options to shoppers, it could risk the success of the reformulation programme.  Any further restrictions will have to pass stern tests around targeting and effectiveness.”

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