The government is planning new rules to tackle childhood obesity by targeting supermarkets, junk food adverts and restaurant menus.
The tighter restrictions have been broadly welcomed – although many people say they raise a number of issues.
‘Daily battle’ at checkout
Under the new proposals, the sale of sweets and fatty snacks will be banned at checkouts, shop entrances and in buy-one-get-one-free deals.
Sarah Galvin, from Southampton, welcomed the news and said the “daily battle” with children at shop checkouts will be “much easier” without unhealthy snacks.
Karrie Langdon, who lives in a village and is eight miles from the nearest supermarket, said her local shop used to be “well stocked with healthy foods and fresh vegetables” before being taken over by a chain.
“I walked into the store and was confronted with a wall of sweets and sugary drinks,” she said. “The fresh veg and fruit has been reduced to a small area tucked away.
“If consumers are faced with only being able to purchase from this type of shop, what choice do people have to eat healthier?
“Unless there is a change of policy within the retail area then promoting healthier choices will not work.”
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British mother-of-two Belinda Griffith spent 16 years living overseas in Singapore and the Netherlands and said she was struck by the difference in people’s shopping habits in the UK and abroad.
“They sell food in the UK in much larger packages which means you have to buy a greater quantity than you actually need,” she said.
“There’s also the reliance on ready-prepared foods where the portion size is also predetermined.”
Supermarkets Co-op, Aldi and Tesco said they do not stock sweets at checkouts while Sainsbury’s and Aldi said they do not run multi-buy promotions.
The Co-op also said it uses traffic light labelling and will be “looking at the plans in more detail to respond to the consultation”.
Fruit ‘too expensive’
Clare Shaw said the proposed rules were good measures” but suggested the government should use the money generated by the sugar tax to subsidise fruit.
“[Fruit] is always expensive to buy and is much better for the children,” she said.
“Why is it cheaper to buy a multipack of Mars bars than it is to buy a punnet of grapes or strawberries?”
Ads ‘make parents’ job harder’
The government is also considering the introduction of new rules on advertising unhealthy food to children on TV and online – which could include a pre-9pm ban.
Ms Galvin said a ban on ads for unhealthy food was “well overdue”, adding: “It baffles me that companies are allowed to advertise sweets, McDonald’s on children’s TV, or any TV pre-watershed.
“Kids don’t need this advertised to them and it makes our job as parents harder.”
The Children’s Food Campaign welcomed the new ad policy but said they want to see restrictions on cartoon characters on junk food packaging and junk food sponsorship in sports.
Restaurants, cafes and takeaways are also being targeted under the proposed measures, which will require them to provide clear calorie labelling.