The UK government said on Monday that it will place restrictions on the promotion of food and drinks high in fat, salt, and sugar from April 2022.
Under the new rules, retailers will be prohibited from offering multi-buy deals such as “buy one get one free” or “3 for 2” offers on such foods.
From April 2022, we will restrict promotions on food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar in shops to make healthier choices easier.
▶️ ending “buy one get one free” and “three for two” offers
▶️ stopping in-store promotions in key areas and online
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) December 28, 2020
Promotion of these “unhealthy” food and drinks will also be banned from locations in shops such as checkouts, entrances, and aisle ends, the government said. They also cannot be featured in prominent positions on retailers’ websites.
Catering businesses will also be prohibited from providing free refills of sugary soft drinks.
“We know families want to be presented with healthier choices. This is why we are restricting promotions and introducing a range of measures to make sure the healthy choice is the easy choice,” said Public Health Minister Jo Churchill.
“Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation,” she said in a statement.
But the benefits of the new measures have been disputed by some.
Annabel Denham, director of communications for the Institute of Economic Affairs, a London-based think tank, called the proposals “ill-conceived.”
“Another one for the pile of ill-conceived proposals that’ll hurt businesses, drive up prices for consumers, and do nothing to reduce our waistlines,” she wrote on Twitter.
The government said the new measures are partly a response to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“Today’s announcement forms a key part of the government’s strategy to tackle obesity and get the nation fit and healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the impact that obesity can have on people’s health and health outcomes,” it said.
This follows the government’s new “obesity strategy” announced in July, which called for the banning of junk food advertising before the 9 p.m. watershed, the ending of “buy one, get one free” deals on unhealthy foods, and the listing of calorie contents on large restaurants’ menus and, possibly, also on alcohol.
The strategy was intended to “get the nation fit and healthy, protect themselves against COVID-19, and protect the NHS,” the government said at the time.
Mary Clark contributed to this report.