Anti-obesity strategy to be reviewed due to cost-of-living crisis

This article was taken from:













The government is reviewing its anti-obesity strategy for England, including plans for a ban on TV advertising of junk food before 9pm.







It is understood ministers believe it should be looked at in light of the cost-of-living crisis.







But health campaigners said they were “deeply concerned” about reports the measures could be scrapped.







A ban on multi-buy deals and pre-watershed advertising of junk food had already been delayed earlier this year.







The government said the plans would be deferred for a year while officials assessed the impact on household finances and to give the industry more time to prepare.







However, restrictions on the placement of less healthy products at checkouts and store entrances are currently still due to go ahead in October.







In April, new rules requiring larger restaurants and takeaways to print calories on menus also came into force.







The Guardian, which first reported the story, also suggested the tax on high-sugar soft drinks, which was introduced in 2018, could be reviewed.







  • What’s the problem with calories on restaurant menus?






  • Delay to obesity plan immoral – ex-Tory leader






Celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was among those to criticise the review, saying the strategy had been “hard won and has the support of the nation’s health experts”.







He added that the prime minister “has no mandate to cancel it and doing so will not merely increase the burden on the NHS but shorten the lives of many thousands of people”.







Katharine Jenner, director of the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 40 organisations, said axing measures in the strategy would “not help the cost of living crisis in the short term, and in the long term would lead to serious consequences for our health, our economy and our NHS”.








“It would be reckless and a great shame to waste government and business time and money rowing back on these obesity policies, which are evidence-based and already in law,” she said.







Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar, said scrapping the strategy would be disastrous to public health and for food business which had prepared for the policy change.







“Now, more than ever, the UK population need equitable access to healthy, affordable food and this can only be achieved with policies designed to rebalance our food system,” he said.







Food prices are rising at their fastest rate for 14 years, with the war in Ukraine disrupting supplies of key goods such as sunflower oil, wheat and fertiliser.







Household budgets are also being squeezed by soaring energy costs.







During the Conservative leadership race, Liz Truss had pledged to scrap the planned ban on multi-buy deals for unhealthy products and not to introduce any new taxes on junk food.







“Those taxes are over,” she told the Daily Mail. “Talking about whether or not somebody should buy a two-for-one offer? No. There is definitely enough of that.”







It marks a change in approach from Boris Johnson, who had made tackling obesity a priority when he was prime minister.







His views were influenced by his experience of being hospitalised with Covid-19, with Mr Johnson highlighting that losing weight was a way of reducing the risk from coronavirus.