Government consultation asking for people's views on restrictions of certain foods

Jack Woodfield
Mon, 14 Jan 2019
Government consultation asking for peoples views on restrictions of certain foods
The government is to conduct a 12-week consultation asking people if there should be more restrictions on foods linked to childhood obesity.

The consultation will involve collecting views on restriction of multi-buy products, such as 'buy one, get one free', and restricting promotions of products at checkouts, end of aisles and store entrances.

Currently, one in three children is overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school, with rates of childhood obesity at an all-time high in the UK.

The high consumption and cheap availability of sugary food and drinks is a prominent reason for this increase, and tackling sugar intake is a government priority for lowering childhood obesity, which can lead to type 2 diabetes and other health complications.

For this consultation the government has grouped sugar, salt and fat together, using the acronym HFSS (high in fat, sugar or salt). Out of these groups of food, the link between sugar and poor health is the best understood. The decision to restrict salt and fat is more complicated. While processed foods high in salt and fat are detrimental to health, natural foods containing salt and fat are generally healthy.

The government is targeting fat restriction in products but doesn't specify the differences between healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats can be found in unprocessed, 'real' foods such as avocados, nuts, meat, oily fish and dairy, and have many benefits for the body. Unhealthy fats include highly processed oils that are often used in processed foods. Industrially produced trans fats present a particular danger to health.

Significantly, eating healthy fat and lowering carbohydrate intake has been shown to improve health outcomes significantly, with benefits including weight loss and even remission from type 2 diabetes in adults. Preliminary research has shown that low carb can be an effective strategy in children and more research is welcomed in this area.

The plans to prevent offers on HFSS could help to reduce the sale of a variety of processed foods such as sweets, crisps and pastries. The downside is that the drive could affect healthy low carbohydrate foods that may be naturally higher in fat and salt.

The government hopes that the consultation, which is the second part of their childhood obesity plan, will serve as a platform for new measures to be proposed. Obesity Health Alliance research has revealed that 43% of all food and drink products located in prominent areas were sugary foods and drinks.

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: "Tackling childhood obesity means working together across society, with industry, public services and families all having a role to play. All too often we hear people say less healthy foods are cheaper and easier but that is simply not the case.

"This is about ensuring businesses are doing their part to shift the balance and help children and families eat healthier options like fruit and vegetables."

You can share your views as part of the consultation here. Respondents have until 11:59pm on 6 April 2019 before the consultation closes.
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