Boris Johnson is already dealing with a rising backlash inside his occasion over his choice to shelve a plan to ban “buy-one-get-one-free” grocery store offers and pre-watershed TV promoting for junk meals.
The prime minister ordered the delay as a part of a decree for Whitehall to search out methods of easing the price of dwelling disaster. However, senior Tories have warned the delay dangers heaping extra stress on the NHS and contributing to severe illness.
Dan Poulter, a Tory MP and former well being minister, urged the prime minister to rethink. “The biggest health challenge facing the UK is obesity, which we know is linked to many chronic health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure – all of which can shorten lives and put tremendous pressure on the NHS,” he advised the Observer.
“Whilst there is no silver bullet, banning junk food advertisements and buy-one-get-one-free deals would be an important step forwards, so it is disappointing the government is shelving these plans, and I hope it reconsiders.”
The choice is prone to obtain scrutiny from the Commons well being choose committee. It is headed by Jeremy Hunt, the previous well being secretary who as soon as described the worsening childhood weight problems downside as a “national emergency”.
Another former well being minister warned the choice might “blow a hole” within the authorities’s weight problems technique, which Johnson championed after his personal weight put him in danger when he turned in poor health with Covid-19.
James Bethell, who piloted the measures, stated dropping the plans risked having a “massive follow-on effect on all of our health targets”. He advised BBC Radio 4’s Today: “The cancer 10-year plan, the extra five years of longevity and many more of our health targets are damaged by this.” “All of this illness that is caused by [being] overweight from junk food is being carried by the NHS and by the taxpayer. We do need to account for all of the costs of the obesity crisis in this country, and it is one way of mitigating those costs without actually banning things or taking more extreme measures.”
Former well being secretary Matt Hancock has additionally beforehand acknowledged that if chubby adults misplaced 5 kilos in weight, it might save the NHS some £100m. The prime minister took the choice to shelve the measures for at the very least a 12 months after a ministerial assembly final week on the price of dwelling. With the Treasury reluctant to spend extra on tackling the problem, all departments are below stress to search out methods of easing the disaster.
Bethell warned that delaying the plans successfully meant they might not go forward earlier than the subsequent election – placing them in danger indefinitely. “Parliamentary practicalities are that it will be extremely difficult to return to these measures before the next election,” he stated. “I’d like to take the government at its word, but naturally I am concerned that this is backing off the obesity strategy top to bottom.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has stated the delayed ban on multi-buy promotions would come into impact in October 2023, and that on TV adverts earlier than the 9pm watershed will now be in January 2024.