Supermarkets across England are likely to be prohibited from displaying or stocking unhealthy food and drinks at checkouts or utilizing them under offers like buy one, get one free, as part of a government initiative to curb obesity.
As per the sources of knowledge, the checkout restrictions will be applicable to other sales-enhancing locations such as store entrances or at the end of aisles. Further, similar rules will apply for websites which will prohibit sales links for unhealthy foods on certain web pages such as homepages and checkout or payment pages. Moreover, restaurants will no longer be able to serve free sugary drinks refills.
It has been reported that the restrictions will not be enforced until April 2022 and will be first subject to a consultation procedure.
Furthermore, the rules regarding promotions, which would also restrict all bulk buy offers on high-fat or high-sugar foodstuffs would only apply to big retailers with employee strength of 50 or more. The limitations regarding the display location of junk foods is for the shops having an area of over 2,000 sq. feet, while exempting specialist retailers like chocolate shops.
Reportedly, this initiative comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge earlier this year to reduce levels of obesity and excess weight. Johnson made the commitment after going through a serious period of coronavirus, which the he believed was intensified on account of being overweight.
Supporting the initiatives, Prof Graham MacGregor, the campaign group chair stated that Downing Street is taking decisive efforts starting with a bold step of restricting the sale of unhealthy food in multi-buy offers and at checkouts, and eradicating one of the major threats to Britain’s future health, i.e., childhood obesity.
Meanwhile, Caroline Cerny of Obesity Health Alliance stated that the retailers would not be able to influence customers to buy tins of sweets impulsively at supermarket entrances. As the new rules would not apply before mid-2022, retail and food industry have plenty of time for preparing and shifting their promotions to healthier food products.
For the record, 63% adults in England are either overweight or living with obesity, while one third of children leave primary school obese or overweight.