War on sale of treats: Sweet ban in obesity fight

By | January 12, 2019

sugar tax obesity children sweet

Health campaigners want to stop awkward scenes of parents pressured to buy treats (Image: Ian Allenden/ Alamy Stock Photo)

Health chiefs are ordering new curbs on the sale of treats. Piled-high offers on items like chocolates and sweets face a ban. Ministers want to tackle the obesity crisis especially among children by curbing deals promoting products filled with fat, sugar and salt.

Measures announced by the Department of Health and Social Care target so-called “sugar mountains” – volume and location-based promotions of sugary and fatty products.

These include buy-one-get-one-free and multi-buy offers and promotions at checkouts, at the end of aisles and at store entrances which encourage children to pester their parents and make it harder for them to say no.

Health bosses want to crack down on overconsumption by curbing deals that require customers to buy more chocolate, crisps and cake than they need to take advantage of discount pricing.

They claim the measures will help end a crisis that has seen one in three children leaving primary school overweight or obese.

sugar tax obesity children supermarket offers

Health bosses want to crack down on overconsumption by curbing deals (Image: Tesco Express)

The first option as part of the Government consultation is to curb all multi-buy promotions of unhealthy products while the second would require retailers to ensure at least 80 per cent of their sales from volume promotions are for healthier products.

Research suggests 83 per cent of parents have been pestered by children to buy food at checkouts with seven in 10 likely to give in.

Guilt Public health bosses are worried a rising number of last minute, unplanned purchases was unwittingly pumping more sugar and calories into children’s diets and fuelling disease like Type 2 diabetes.

Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, welcomed the moves saying: “Albeit years too late, we are beginning to see the kind of robust measures needed to tackle childhood obesity.”

sugar tax obesity children obesity children health

Almost 7,000 Type 2 diabetes sufferers are now under the age of 25 (Image: Getty Images)

One child in five is obese or overweight in their first year of primary school

But he added: “With research already showing parents are overwhelmingly in favour of such action I am frustrated it seems we still need a consultation period before it becomes government policy.

“The queues at checkouts, dubbed ‘guilt lanes’ across the country, have long been a major source of embarrassment to parents having publicly to deny their children’s demands for sugar-laden snacks and confectionery that they know to be unhealthy.”

But liberty campaigners said the Government’s pledge was another example of nanny state interference in people’s lives.

Tory MP and father-of-three David Davies said: “If people are exercising properly there is no reason why they shouldn’t have a chocolate bar every now and again for heaven’s sake. This is further proof that the world is going mad. Who the hell is the Government to tell people what to do? Whatever will be banned next?”

sugar tax obesity children counter supermarket

83 percent of parents have been pestered by children to buy food at checkouts (Image: Getty Images)

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This kind of patronising nannying rightly angers people. The public health puritans’ miserable quest seemingly knows no bounds. It is infuriating that hard-working families’ taxes are being wasted in this way.”

The crisis over the state of the nation’s health has sparked fierce debate, with some claiming the root cause of obesity is consuming more calories than we need while others point to our increasingly sedentary lives and reliance on technology.

Almost 7,000 Type 2 diabetes sufferers are now under the age of 25 and more than one child in five is obese or overweight in their first year of primary school.

The disease has become a huge drain on the NHS and now costs £14billion a year to treat.

The number of related prescriptions issued has rocketed by 80 per cent in a decade.

There is already a sugar tax on some soft drinks but campaigners say it should be extended to food and drinks not subject to the levy, like milkshakes.

Aldi and Lidl have already voluntarily stopped selling items like sweets at tills but other supermarkets and smaller retailers now face a clampdown on promotions aimed at children, like family packs of chocolate and biscuits readily available for just £1.

sugar tax obesity children chocolate cadbury

PROMOTIONS: Family packs of chocolate and biscuits readily available for just £1 (Image: Getty Images)

The Football Association came under fire recently for renewing its long-standing partnership with confectionary giant Mars, maker of Mars bars, Milky Way, M&M’s, Skittles, Snickers, and Twix while McDonald’s has been a key commercial partner for 15 years.

Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer for the Food and Drink Federation, said the move was a “monumental distraction” when the UK faced a no-deal Brexit, adding: “It looks like the Department is out of touch with economic realities.”

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: “Preventing ill health is critical to our Long Term Plan for the NHS and I want to do everything in my power to keep people healthy for longer. This must start with the health and nutrition of our children.”

Daily Express :: Health Feed