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Ban on BOGOFs for unhealthy food items delayed by ministers

By Gavin Cordon & George Thorpe

The Government is to delay a ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for unhealthy food products due to the “unprecedented” squeeze on living standards.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the planned bar on multi-buy promotions on foods and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar (HFSS) is being put back a year to October 2023. A ban on TV adverts for HFSS products before a 9pm watershed and on paid-for adverts online is also being delayed by 12 months and will now come into effect in January 2024.

Officials said the deferral of the buy-one-get-one-free (Bogof) ban was to give ministers a chance to assess the impact on household finances amid intense concern over the cost-of-living squeeze. However, health campaigners reacted with dismay to the news, accusing Boris Johnson of “playing politics” with children’s health.

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Public Health Minister Maggie Throup insisted they remained determined to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives,” she said.

“Pausing restrictions on deals like buy one get one free will allow us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.”

However Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London and chairman of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, said the delays completely contradicted the Government’s “levelling up” agenda. “Boris Johnson could have left a legacy of being the first Prime Minister to address obesity in a meaningful way, particularly in restricting advertising and promotion of unhealthy food which were his flagship policies,” he said.

“Instead, he has given in to his own MPs, and an aggressive food industry, who, ironically, were starting to comply with these new policies.”

Barbara Crowther, of the Children’s Food Campaign, said the Government should be moving faster on Bogof deals, not “delaying and dithering”. “Obesity is spiking and millions of families can’t afford to put proper food on the table. Multi-buy offers make people spend more on junk, and less on healthy food,” she said.

“This delay threatens the UK target to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Boris is playing politics with our children’s health.”

For Labour, shadow public health minister Andrew Gwynne said: “Boris Johnson’s desperation to cling onto his job means the ideology of Conservative MPs is being placed above children’s health. Instead of cutting childhood obesity, preventing ill-health and easing pressure on the NHS, this chaotic government is performing another U-turn.”

The DHSC said restrictions on the placement of less healthy products in stores and supermarkets will still come into force in October 2022 as planned.

Last month, laws on calorie labelling in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways came into force.

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Dive Deeper:
Boris Johnson 'putting children at risk' with BOGOF ban delay for unhealthy food
The Government has pushed back the legislation
Ministers delay ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for unhealthy foods
Officials said they want to assess the impact on family budgets amid an ‘unprecedented’ cost-of-living squeeze.
Jamie Oliver blasts junk food BOGOF ban delay as 'wasted opportunity'
Measures set to help tackle childhood obesity have been delayed by the Government
Ban on supermarket junk food deals DELAYED by a year in cost-of-living shambles
Boris Johnson had vowed to end 3-for-2 offers on unhealthy food - but it's now been kicked back after warnings…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Delay to junk food ads ban could ‘blow a hole’ in UK obesity strategy
Failing to stop people eating unhealthily will increase number needing NHS treatment, says former health minister Lord Bethell
Tory backlash grows over delay to junk food TV ad ban
Conservative MPs raise fears that Boris Johnson’s decision to ease cost of living crisis will help fuel obesity
Get all your news in one place