Health campaigners say the government’s obesity strategy is “collapsed” after delaying a ban on multiple junk food purchases and TV commercials for at least a year before a watershed moment.
Chef Jamie Oliver says banning advertising is key to protecting children’s health.
The Children’s Food Campaign said multiple purchase agreements resulted in “people spending more on junk food and less on healthy food”.
But ministers said they were delaying the policy to assess its impact on the cost of living crisis.
The Department of Health and Social Care said the planned October ban on “buy one get one free” offers on high-fat foods and drinks, salt or sugar and free refill soft drinks would be put on hold for 12 months.
Plans to limit junk food TV advertising and paid online advertising by 21:00 GMT were also on hold until January 2024, the ministry added.
He added that restrictions on placing junk food in stores will continue until October.
Mr Oliver, who has long worked to improve children’s access to healthier food, wrote on Twitter that limiting junk food advertising was crucial.
“It’s a wasted opportunity that’s starting to erode the whole obesity strategy — which once seemed progressive and world-leading, but is falling apart when action is taken. On these policies,” he said.
“Parents and kids don’t want to hear any more excuses from the government. I really hope Prime Minister @BorisJohnson proves me wrong and shows real leadership to provide young people with a healthier and fairer future. »
Former health minister Lord Bethel also criticised the delay as “unconservative”, saying it would be “extremely difficult” for the government to change plans before the next election.
Lord Bethel, who served in Boris Johnson’s government, said disease caused by excessive consumption of junk food was a burden on the NHS and taxpayers.
public health government-funded research Shows that consumers buy 20% more junk food than is typically sold through promotions.
He also found that instead of stockpiling extra food and drinks, people increased their consumption.
A sort of Research published by Cancer Research UK March also found “strong evidence” that targeted junk food ads on social media directly encouraged 11-19-year-olds to make unhealthy choices.
The charity’s chief executive Michelle Mitchell said she was “extremely disappointed” by the decision to delay the ban, saying obesity was the second most preventable cause of cancer in the UK.
Obesity – what do the data say?
About two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese – 28% of them are considered obese. Latest NHS Health Survey 2019.
Among children aged 4 to 5, 14% were obese, 13% were overweight, National Child Measurement Program Found last year.
That number rose to 25.5 percent obese and 15.4 percent overweight when 10- to 11-year-olds were surveyed.
The figures show that 9.9% of 4-year-olds donated and 21% of 10- to 11-year-olds were obese compared to the previous year.
Source: Digital NHS
Barbara Crowther of the Kids’ Food Campaign said ministers should urgently limit multiple purchase offers.
“Obesity is soaring and millions of households are unable to eat properly. Buy more deals encourage people to spend more on junk food and less on healthy food,” she said.
“This delay threatens the UK’s goal of halving childhood obesity by 2030. Boris is playing with the politics of our children’s health. »
Labour’s shadow health secretary Andrew Gwynne said: “Instead of reducing childhood obesity, preventing disease and reducing pressure on the NHS, this chaotic government has turned around again.” »
However, Public Health Minister Maggie Throup insists the government remains committed to tackling childhood obesity.
“Given the unprecedented global economic situation, suspending restrictions on offers such as ‘buy one, get one’ free will allow us to understand the impact on consumers,” she added.
The British Retail Consortium said the ban on multiple-buy offers was unlikely to have much impact, as retailers have moved “significantly away” from it in recent years.
The consortium’s head of food and sustainability, Andrew Opie, praised the delay in advertising rules as “one less distraction” for companies looking to focus on keeping prices low.
Industry body the Food and Beverage Federation believes it makes sense to delay restrictions on multiple-buy concessions as households and manufacturers grapple with high inflation. It would also give the industry time to prepare for the change in the law, he said.
When the government unveiled the planned restrictions, some of Britain’s biggest food companies, including Britvic, Kellogg and Mars, criticised them for being disproportionate and lacking evidence.
Last month, Kellogg’s said it would sue the government to restrict certain cereals from being placed in key locations in stores due to their high sugar content.
Laws requiring large restaurants, cafes and takeaways to list calories on their menus went into effect last month.
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- Jamie Olivier
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article Junk food: Strategies to fight obesity are crumbling, according to Jamie Oliver first appeared in Zimo News.