The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched a public consultation on the government’s plans to restrict promotions of food and drink products that are high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS).
The consultation , which opened this weekend and will close at the beginning of April, asks stakeholders to comment on the restriction of volume-based promotions, such as ‘buy one, get one free’ offers and free refills. These price promotions “encourage people to buy more than they need” , the DHSC suggested.
The Department is also examining whether restrictions should be introduced on the placement of HFSS products at “main selling locations” in-store, such as checkouts, aisle ends and store entrances.
The consultation asks which businesses, products and promotion types should be included in the restrictions and seeks to develop definitions of HFSS products, prices promotion mechanisms and locations in-store. The DHSC is inviting businesses to share feedback on how they will be able to put these measures into practices and whether any difficulties will arise.
Fighting obesity and NCDs
The consultation follows on from the second chapter of UK’s strategy to tackle childhood obesity, publishedlast summer. A key plank of the strategy was restricting promotions of unhealthy food to tackle the UK’s growing childhood obesity problem.
Nearly one in four children are overweight or obese by the time they start primary school. By the time they leave, at age 11, this ratio rises to one in three children.
The health department highlighted the negative consequences that this has for the health of the nation, including higher risks of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and various cancers. It is estimated that obesity related diseases cost the UK £6.1 billion each year.
The total cost to society, according to figures quoted by DHSC, is estimated at £27-46 billion per year.
“Our aim is to reduce excessive eating and drinking of HFSS products that can lead to children becoming overweight and obese. We also want businesses to promote healthier food and drink, to help people make healthier choices,” DHSC said.
DHSC will consider the responses to the consultation before setting out next steps and publishing a response paper.