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Supermarket 'guilt lanes' banned in government's new obesity strategy

3 min read

Supermarkets will have to ban “guilt-lanes” of sweets and chocolates near checkouts as part of the Government’s plan to combat child obesity.

A raft of new legislation to be introduced by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt could include an end on two-for-one offers for junk foods and a 9pm watershed for advertising products that are high in sugar and salt from 2020, according to The Telegraph.  

It comes after figures published earlier this week said more than 22,000 children will leave primary school this year dangerously obese.

Ministers will launch consultations later this year on new laws to end "the promotion of unhealthy foods and drinks" at checkouts, the paper said.

They will also consult on a ban on "buy one get one free" offers on products like biscuits and cakes and end "unlimited refills" of high sugar fizzy drinks in sugar in restaurants. 

"Where food is placed in shops and how it is promoted can influence the way we shop and it is more common for HFSS [high in fat, sugar and salt] products to be placed in the most prominent places in store as well as sold on promotion, e.g. with ‘buy one get one free’ offers,” the strategy, seen by The Telegraph, states.

"Whilst some retailers have taken the first steps to redressing this by removing confectionery from checkouts or restricting price promotions, we believe that wherever parents shop they shouldn’t be bombarded with HFSS products."

The proposals could reignite the debate over banning “Tony the Tiger” with the strategy saying the Government will "undertake some further work" on whether to ban "the use of licensed characters, cartoon characters and celebrities" in junk food adverts.

Theresa May’s first childhood obesity strategy came out in August 2016 but was heavily criticised by campaigners after being watered down. 

The proposals could provoke a backlash from retailers as ministers look to force supermarkets to follow the likes of Waitrose in banning the sale of energy drinks to children under the age of 16. 

"Many larger retailers and supermarkets have followed Waitrose in voluntarily introducing a ban on the sale of energy drinks to under-16s. We applaud their positive action in this space,” the stategy says.

"However there are large numbers of retailers who have not imposed such a restriction. It is important for us to create a level playing field for businesses so that retailers that take action on this issue are not disadvantaged, and to stop children from simply switching from one retail outlet to another to buy energy drinks.

"We will therefore consult before the end of 2018 on our intention to introduce legislation to end the sale of energy drinks to children by all retailers."

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