The government will soon launch an official consultation on banning stores from displaying confectionery and other “unhealthy” foods at till points, aisle ends and store entrances, as part of its updated Childhood Obesity Plan.
The proposal, announced by Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt, is one of a number of new measures that the government will consult on before the end of 2018, as it seeks to halve the number of obese children by 2030.
Other measures include a ban on price promotions for foods high in fat salt and sugar (HFSS) such as ‘buy one get one free’ and multi-buy offers.
The Department of Health and Social Care will also consider introducing legislation to mandate consistent calorie labelling for food bought from the out-of-home sector, and whether micro-businesses should be excluded from this, or given a longer implementation period.
It will also consult on banning the sale of energy drinks to children.
A retail ban would “create a level playing field for businesses,” and stop children from switching from one retail outlet to another to buy energy drinks, Hunt said.
The government will also consult on introducing a 9pm watershed on TV advertising of HFSS products and introducing similar protection for children viewing adverts online.
Announcing the plans, Hunt said: “Parents want what is best for their children, but keeping them healthy and active can be difficult.
“It is near impossible to shield children from exposure to unhealthy foods. Parents are asking for help – we know that over three-quarters of parents find offers for sugary sweets and snacks at checkouts annoying.
“It’s our job to give power to parents to make healthier choices, and to make their life easier in doing so. I am heartened by the progress the food and drink industry has already made in reformulating products and reducing sugar in soft drinks.
“I am cheered by those forward thinking businesses taking action, and want to make sure others follow their example.”
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “We understand that convenience stores do have a role to play in increasing access to healthy foods and we will continue to engage with members about how they can increase and promote healthier ranges in store.
“We have concerns about any measure that would restrict where retailers are allowed to display products, as many of our members operate very small stores where layout changes would be difficult and costly.”