Retailers and their symbol groups have vowed to keep the Change4Life programme alive by plugging the funding gap left when the government slashes its spend on the scheme.

Addressing the UK Facility of Public Health conference earlier this month, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said it was now up to industry, including retailers, charities, local authorities and manufacturers, to unite in taking the scheme, which promotes healthier lifestyles and the consumption of more fruit and vegetables, to the next level.

"It is time for a new approach," Lansley said "We have to make Change4Life less a government campaign and more a social movement. Less paid for by government, more backed by business. Less about costly adverts, more about supporting family and individual responses."

Nisa-Today's group symbol director John Heagney said it planned to invest even more money in promoting the scheme. "Nisa is fully committed to Change4Life as it believes that it is vital retailers do as much as possible to improve the healthy eating habits of the population.

"It was almost inevitable that funding would be scaled back, but the reality is that the amount of funding our sector has been given so far has been so small that it has not been particularly material," Heagney said.

Nisa would soon be introducing Change4Life in its consumer leaflets and regular pos, he added.

Spar also vowed to take up the baton. "Change4Life has worked well in our stores. We are keen to keep on supporting it and rolling it out with help from our retailers across the UK," Spar UK sales development controller John Murray said.

The Association of Convenience Stores also expressed confidence in the scheme's future and said that it welcomed the new partnership approach.

Confectionery and snacks manufacturers, as well as alcoholic and soft drink suppliers, are also among those companies expected to take a larger role in funding the healthy living campaign, in return for a lighter approach to legislation governing those products that are high in fat, sugar or salt.