Supermarkets must do more to help reduce childhood obesity by reducing “deep discounting” on unhealthy foods, MPs have said.
The Commons Health Committee has published a new report which accuses last year’s childhood obesity strategy of not going far enough, pushing for ministers to introduce new legislation that prevents supermarkets discounting unhealthy food.
According to the report, calls for strong controls on price promotions on unhealthy foods, including placing the amount of sugar in teaspoons on packaging, we not acted upon by government.
“Retailers who act responsibly on discounting and promotions should not be put at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not,” the committee stated.
They added that a reduction in promotions should be seen across “all retail outlets, including restaurants, cafes and takeaways”.
“In our view this should not be limited to products which are high in sugar, but also those high in salt and fat,” it said.
“Voluntary controls are unlikely to work in this area and the Government should introduce mandatory controls.”
Measures to bring about a ban on selling unhealthy food at the end of aisles and checkouts were also supported by MPs.
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Despite hailing the introduction of last year’s sugar tax, which has already seen major drinks companies reduce the amount of sugar in their products, the committee argued the cost of the sugar tax must be passed on to consumers to be effective.
Chairwoman of the committee, Tory MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, 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.”