The government has delayed plans to crack down on unhealthy food deals and junk food TV ads for a year.
Promotions such as buy one get one free (bogof) and additional free offers on high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products would have been banned under the new measures, part of the broader Obesity Strategy, in October. .
Instead, the promotions will be banned in October 2023.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the new measures would have coincided with a rise in energy and goods prices.
The prohibition of HFSS Ads on TV before 9 pm and online paid ads are also pushed back a year and will instead go into effect in January 2024, due to a delay in the health and care bill receiving the actual promotion and the industry needs more time to prepare the government said.
He also said that a consultation on television and online paid advertising will be launched in the coming weeks.
Health campaigners were dismayed by the news, with one accusing Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “playing politics” with children’s health.
The government should not be ‘delaying and hesitating’
However, Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: “We are committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives.
“Having restrictions on buy one get one free offers will allow us to understand their impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.”
But Barbara Crowther of the Children’s Food Campaign said the government shouldn’t be “delaying and hesitating” but should move faster on the Bogof deals.
“Obesity is on the rise and millions of families can’t afford to put proper food on the table. Multi-buy deals make people spend more on junk and less on healthy food,” he said.
“This delay threatens the UK’s goal of halving childhood obesity by 2030. Boris is playing politics with our children’s health.”
Shadow public health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “Boris Johnson’s desperation to hold on to his job means that the ideology of Conservative MPs is being placed above the health of children.”
“Instead of reducing childhood obesity, preventing ill health and relieving pressure on the NHS, this chaotic government is making another U-turn.”
Delaying restrictions ‘makes sense’
However, the “pragmatism” of the government action was welcomed by the industry body, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
Kate Halliwell, chief science officer at FDF, said: “At a time when families and our manufacturers alike are struggling with high inflation, it makes sense to delay restrictions on volume promotions for everyday foods and beverages, including cereals. for breakfast, ready meals and yoghurts, as it risked further stretching already strained household budgets.
“We also welcome the delay in the start of advertising restrictions, given how long it will take our industry to prepare for the change in law.”
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Restrictions on placing less healthy products in key locations such as checkouts, store entrances and aisle ends and their online equivalents will remain in place in October.
The government said tackling obesity remains a priority as it will reduce the pressure placed on the NHS as it works to tackle the COVID backlog.
Last month, the government introduced calorie labeling in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways.
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