Ministers postpone junk food advertising and ‘buy one get one free’ curbs amid cost of living crunch

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As the cost of living crunch sets in, ministers have delayed their plans to ban multi-deal buys on junk food in its quest to clamp down on childhood obesity.

The Department of Health has said plans for “buy one get one free” deals for fatty food and drinks, salt or sugar (HFSS) as well as free refills for soft drinks, have been postponed for a year while officials assess the impact of rising costs for households.

The government added that ambitions to block advertising of junk food and paid-for-ads online before watershed at 21:00 have also been postponed

The department said these measures now wouldn’t come into force until January 2024.

 As reported by Sky News, Barbara Crowther at Children’s Food Campaign has criticised the move, stating that Boris Johnson is “playing politics” with people’s health.

“Obesity is spiking and millions of families can’t afford to put proper food on the table. Multi-buy offers make people spend more on junk, and less on healthy food,” she said.

“This delay threatens the UK target to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Boris is playing politics with our children’s health.”

Though health campaigners are questioning the move, arguing that it may slow down the government’s fight against childhood obesity, public health minister Maggie Throup has said the government is committed to its overall goals.

Commenting on the delay, Advertising Association’s Director of Public Affairs Sue Eustace told City A.M.: “The announcement of a 12-month delay is a sensible decision at this time to allow the industry to work through with Government the most successful way to tackle obesity.

The industry is committed to tackling this issue in a way that recognises the cost of living crisis and pressures that everybody is facing currently. There are many ways that advertising can help achieve this ambition, not least through promoting active lifestyles such as The Daily Mile.

“We know from the evidence that an HFSS ad ban will not be the most effective route, and we welcome the opportunity to look again at this legislation and find the best way to a solution.”

“Pausing restrictions on deals like ‘buy one get one free’ will allow us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation,” she said, as reported by the BBC.

It’s not just campaigners weighing in. Last month cerealmaker Kellogg’s said it would be taking the government to court over new legislation that will prohibit some high sugar products being prominently displayed in stores.

The food titan argued the government’s formula should factor in the nutritional value of milk, which it says is eaten with cereal in the vast majority of cases.

Some items – including Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes and Fruit and Fibre – will be banned from being on display in store areas such as check outs, entrances, aisle ends.

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