PM accused of ‘playing politics’ with kids’ health as HFSS rules delayed by a year

The UK government is delaying the restrictions on multibuy deals and advertising foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) for a year as a result of the “unprecedented” squeeze on living standards.

Despite being planned for this October, the high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods and drinks multi-buy promotion ban  has been pushed back by a full year.

Rules banning multibuy deals on ‘unhealthy’ foods and drinks – including buy one get one free (BOGOF), ‘3 for 2’, and restricting free refills for soft drinks – will now be delayed until October 2023.

A ban on TV adverts for HFSS products before the 9pm watershed and on paid-for adverts online has also been delayed to January 2024.

However, restrictions on where HFSS foods can be placed in-store will still go ahead in October 2022 as planned.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) officials, the deferral of the buy-one-get-one-free ban was to give ministers a chance to assess the impact on household finances as inflation and household bills continue to rise.

READ MORE: HFSS promotion ban tipped to be scrapped in government u-turn

However, health campaigners have accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “playing politics” with children’s health, following research which has revealed one in five children aged between 10 and 11 are thought to be obese in the UK.

Public Health minister Maggie Throup insisted that the government remain determined to tackle the issue of childhood obesity.

“We’re committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives,” she said.

“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.”

Children’s Food Campaign’s Barbara Crowther said the government should be moving faster on buy-one-get-one-free deals, not “delaying and dithering”.

“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.”

However industry body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) welcomed the “pragmatism” of the government’s decision.

Chief scientific officer Kate Halliwell said: “At a time when both families and our manufacturers are struggling with high inflation, it makes sense to delay the restrictions on volume promotions for everyday food and drink products, including breakfast cereals, ready meals and yoghurts, as it risked further stretching already-pressed household budgets.

“We also welcome the delay to the start of advertising restrictions, given the time it will take our industry to prepare for the change in law.”

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