Change the focus of promotions to healthier choices

Confectionery

Sir, One in three children in England leave primary school with excess weight or obesity. These children are already on a path towards an unhealthy future, with an increased risk of developing serious health conditions such as cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Ensuring all children have the healthiest possible start in life should be everyone’s business, with industry no exception.

The government is proposing restrictions on promotions on the types of HFSS processed foods that contribute to excess sugar and calories in children’s diets. Our survey of five leading UK supermarkets found 70% of all food & drink items placed in prominent locations were for these types of products.

Tim Rycroft observes that promotions ‘allow new products and brands to… get noticed by customers’, and ‘play a role in making food more affordable’. So why not increase promotions on healthier food and drink, shifting the focus away from junk food and empowering consumers to make healthier choices? This is what the government consultation is trying to achieve, and we, as representatives of the health sector, welcome it as one of many measures that will make a real difference towards reversing this country’s worrying obesity trends.

Obesity Health Alliance steering group: John Maingay, director of policy & public affairs, British Heart Foundation; Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, board of science chair, BMA; Alison Cox, director of prevention, Cancer Research UK; Helen Dickens, assistant director of campaigns & mobilisation, Diabetes UK; Professor Simon Capewell, fellow, Faculty of Public Health;

Professor Russell Viner, president, Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health

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