Supermarkets in the UK are coming under pressure from the government to remove chocolate and sweets from the impulse purchases section at the end of aisles as part of a new drive to improve the nation’s health in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it has been revealed.
One of the policies Downing Street is said to be considering is a renewed ‘war against obesity’ with measures to nudge the public into healthier food-buying habits.
The Guardian reports that one plan being considered is stopping supermarkets from displaying unhealthy foods at the ends of aisles, a common sales-boosting tactic to tempt shoppers as they wait in a checkout queue.
Other measures could include an end to 'buy one, get one free' supermarket promotions on unhealthy food, with policy announcement on the issue expected in the coming weeks.
The UK government has denied plans to increase the tax on sugary drinks, for now.
Ministers said in May they wanted to launch a new, more interventionist public health drive, billed as a campaign against obesity, but potentially also including measures to encourage more healthy living, The Guardian revealed.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The prime minister has talked a few times about obesity and the fact that he views it as a serious national issue, and one that he is determined to tackle.”
A number of initial studies suggest that people who are overweight or obese are disproportionately likely to have worse Covid-19 outcomes than those who are not.
The UK has one of the highest levels of excess weight and obesity in Europe. As measured by body mass index, 64% of adults in England are classed as overweight or obese, and 29% are obese.
Health experts recommend that while cutting calories can bring rapid weight reduction, for this to last it must almost always be combined with a more physically active lifestyle.