Public appetite for ‘tobacco style’ restrictions on HFSS food runs out

43% of Brits would not support the introduction of tobacco-style controls on high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) products, new survey data reveals.

A YouGov survey of 2,000 people found that only 18% would back all the restrictions and regulations on HFSS products.

The survey, commissioned by communications consultancy SPQR, asked if people would support mandatory health warnings on HFSS food and found that while 34% would, 45% would not.

Furthermore, only 11% of people believe restrictions on the packaging would have a significant effect on their purchasing decisions.

“The playbook that was developed for tobacco control has been repurposed and applied to the new enemy of our times – obesity,” SPQR Communications managing director Michael Coppen-Gardner.

READ MORE: HFSS policy delayed due to cost-of-living crisis

“From the soft drinks levy in 2018 to the recommendations of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy in 2021, interventionism is becoming the de facto approach for tackling obesity.”

It is estimated that British shoppers currently spend about 40% of their grocery budget on HFSS food, 15% of which goes to the type of products that will face the most restrictions.

A recent study from the University of Glasgow found that obesity is now a bigger killer in England and Scotland than smoking.

Coppen-Gardner continued: “We risk going backwards if the government continues down this path.

“The public aren’t on board with these measures – in fact, our YouGov survey suggests we’ve already reached the boundary of public tolerance with the proposed advertising and promotion restrictions.

“Instead, we need new ideas that align public health objectives with public opinion. On few topics is that more important than when it comes to the food we eat.”

The news comes as proposals to restrict the advertisement and promotion of HFSS products are expected later this year.

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