Unhealthy food promotions to be restricted in supermarkets from 2022

28 December 2020, 07:43

File photo: Snacks and sweets in a shop in London
File photo: Snacks and sweets in a shop in London. Picture: Getty

By Megan White

Promotions on unhealthy food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar are set to be restricted in supermarkets in the UK from April 2022.

Free refills of sugary soft drinks will also be prohibited in the eating-out sector under the new rules, designed to help Brits make healthier choices.

The new rules will prohibit retailers from offering multi-buy promotions such as "buy one get one free" or "3 for 2" offers on these products.

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Unhealthy promotions will also no longer be featured in key locations, such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.

Promotions often appear to help shoppers save money, however data shows that these deals actually increase purchases of promoted products by almost 20 per cent by encouraging people to buy more than they need or intended to buy in the first place.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “We know families want to be presented with healthier choices. This is why we are restricting promotions and introducing a range of measures to make sure the healthy choice is the easy choice.

“Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation.”

In the New Year, PHE’s Better Health Campaign will also run new adverts on TV and online to inspire and support people to maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity is one of the biggest health crises the country faces as almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese.

Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS £6 billion a year.

These changes will make supermarkets and other retailers places where the healthy choice is the easy choice for everyone and support people to lead healthier lives.

The location of products within stores can lead to pester power from children and can also significantly affect people’s purchases.

For example, end of aisle displays have been shown to increase soft drink sales by over 50 per cent.

The Department of Health and Social Care said the announcement forms a key part of the government’s strategy to tackle obesity and get the nation fit and healthy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the impact that obesity can have on people's health and health outcomes.

These measures will support people in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and overall improve the nation’s health.