Campaigners including Tesco, Aldi and most of the UK’s other major supermarkets have joined forces to urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to back a new food bill and tackle the nation’s obesity crisis.
More than 100 businesses and organisations have come together to call for proposed tough food targets to be made legally binding, amid concerns that the government will ditch upcoming anti-obesity measures.
The Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently in its final stages before parliament, is widely seen as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to fix the UK’s food system.
The coalition – which includes Aldi, Tesco and other major food businesses – is urging ministers to introduce legally binding targets that would ensure long-term action to tackle the ongoing obesity epidemic, according to the Observer.
Restrictions on in-store promotions and buy-one-get-one-free offers to remove junk food from supermarket checkouts have already been introduced and are due to come into effect this October.
However, concerns that Johnson will drop the junk food strategy outlined in the bill – which includes a pre-9pm ban on junk food advertising – follow the news that health secretary Sajid Javid has been given powers to postpone some of the measures.
High-profile chef and healthy food advocate Jamie Oliver has accused Johnson of “playing politics” with children’s health after the prime minister looks to appease Conservative backbenchers. Meanwhile, Javid has insisted that the government is “absolutely committed” to banning junk food promotions.
A key recommendation from food tsar Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy – to tax sugar and salt in food – is also expected to be rejected when the government publishes its white paper next month.
Dimbleby also said the government should set targets for people to be eating more fruit, vegetables and fibre and less meat and foods high in fat, salt and sugar by 2032.
One in four people in the UK are currently classed as very overweight or obese.