The government lifted the ban on junk food advertising as part of measures to help shoppers afford cheap meals.
Ministers on Friday rejected an incoming ban before 9pm on ‘buy one, get one free’ TV adverts and unhealthy snacks amid the cost of living crisis, following cuts in healthy living policies from the UK that were introduced during the pandemic
The Government will delay its ban on multi-buy offers on foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar, including restrictions on free refills on soft drinks, until October next year. Meanwhile, the ban on TV ads won’t go into effect until January 2024.
It comes after Boris Johnson blamed his weight for becoming seriously ill when he contracted Covid-19 in 2020, landing him in intensive care and put on oxygen.
‘Deadly wake-up call’
Johnson said later that year that he was “too fat”, and ministers urged Britons to see the pandemic as a “deadly wake-up call” on obesity levels after research found it can almost double the risk of obesity. die from the disease.
This prompted the Prime Minister to announce an anti-obesity strategy, which included a ban on television advertising for unhealthy foods before 9 pm and multiple-buy offers on junk food. He came along with an army of “weight loss coaches” at GP surgeries to persuade people to live healthier lives.
A year later, Mr. Johnson announced a government-backed rewards program for families who switch to healthier eating and exercise.
Now, immersed in the cost of living crisis and the economic repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine, the Government is backing down on its plans.
The Telegraph reported that £100m in funding for fitness trainers and weight-loss apps had been scrapped, meaning the Department of Health and Social Care has to fund it from existing budgets.
“Incredibly disappointing and short-sighted”
Commenting on the developments, Professor Rachel Batterham, special adviser on obesity at the Royal College of Physicians, said the move was “incredibly disappointing and short-sighted”.
“Many have cited the cost-of-living crisis as a reason to stick with buy one, get one free deals, but the research is clear: They don’t save us money, they just encourage us to spend more,” he said.
“And delaying the 9:00 p.m. milestone for advertising unhealthy foods will leave our children vulnerable to developing long-term unhealthy eating habits.”
Nearly a third (28 per cent) of the adult population in England is obese, and more than a third (36 per cent) are overweight, estimates suggest.
Maggie Throup, the public health minister, said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives.
“Having restrictions on offers like buy one get one free will allow us to understand their impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.”
Julia López, the minister for media, data and digital, added: “We have listened to the concerns that have been raised and we will not introduce restrictions on junk food advertising until we are sure the time is right.”
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