MPs have called on the government to do more to restrict deep discounting and price promotions on the sale of unhealthy food and drink.
The Health Select Committee warned that the government’s plans to tackle childhood obesity was at risk of being undermined without regulation on deep discounting and promotions. Retailers who act responsibly in this area should not be put at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not, it added.
The committee also urged the government to ensure manufacturers pass on the cost of the soft drinks levy to ensure a price differential at the point of sale between high- and low- or no-sugar drinks. It argued that this would enhance the effect of the levy in encouraging low or no sugar choices.
The government should also extend the levy to milk-based drinks which have extra sugar added, the committee said in its follow up report to the childhood obesity plan.
Regarding the out-of-home sector, the committee repeated its call for change to planning legislation to make it easier for local authorities to limit the proliferation of unhealthy food outlets in their areas.
Chair of the health committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, said: “We are extremely disappointed that the government has rejected a number of our recommendations. These omissions mean that the current plan misses important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity.
“Vague statements about seeing how the current plan turns out are inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of this major public health challenge. The government must set clear goals for reducing overall levels of childhood obesity as well as goals for reducing the unacceptable and widening levels of inequality.”