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Welsh Government to introduce restriction on high fat, sugar and salt products

27 Jun 2023 5 minute read
Photo Ramones Karaoke is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Restrictions on the placement and price promotion in shops of high fat, sugar and salt products are to be introduced from as early as next year to tackle Wales’ “obesity crisis”.

The new law is aimed at improving diets and helping prevent obesity, with over 60% of adults in Wales overweight and more than a quarter of children overweight or obese by the time they start school.

It will dictate what items can be sold as part of volume-based promotions and multi-buys, such as buy-one-get-one-free and meals deals.

There will also be rules on where unhealthy products can be displayed, such as at the end of aisles, or near entrances and checkouts.

In the announcement on Tuesday, the Welsh Government insisted it was not banning meal deals, but said the unhealthiest products would no longer be offered as part of such deals.

Previously, the idea that meal deals could be banned in Wales caused public outrage.

The Welsh Conservatives responded by saying the government should have done more to tackle obesity, but that in a cost-of-living crisis no move should be made to increase shopping bills.

Increase prices

Retailers and trade associations have previously warned the legislation would increase prices and limit choices for shoppers while having negative consequences for Welsh producers.

There was also concern the proposed legislation would go beyond similar regulations agreed in England, putting additional pressure on retailers.

However, the government claimed the public are broadly supportive of measures to make food healthier.

In a Public Health Wales (PHW) survey called Time To Talk Public Health, 57% of people agreed that governments should use financial tools like taxes to reduce sugar in foods with high levels.

Current levels of obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes are at record levels in Wales.

If current trends continue, PHW claims obesity will cost the NHS in Wales more than £465 million by 2050.

According to evidence gathered by PHW, between 29-41% of UK expenditure on food and drink is part of a price promotion, with people who purchase more items on promotion more likely to be living with overweight or obesity.

It is hoped the measures will encourage the food and retail industry to consider how healthier options can be made more available and affordable.

This could include providing more promotions on healthier food or reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of products that currently fall under the restrictions.

Prevent obesity 

Lynne Neagle, the deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, said: “This legislation will take forward our commitment to improve diets and help prevent obesity in Wales.

“Whilst similar legislation is also being introduced in England, I am minded to include temporary price reductions and meal deals within our restrictions.

“We will not be banning any product or type of promotion, our aim is to rebalance our food environments towards healthier products, so that the healthy choice becomes the easy choice.

“Our next generation deserve a different ‘normal’ where healthier foods are more available, affordable and appealing, and high fat, sugar and salt foods are not a core part of our diet.”

Gemma Roberts, from Obesity Alliance Cymru, said: “There is an obesity crisis in Wales, and we are pleased to see the Welsh Government proposing legislation which will support the people of Wales to make healthy choices.

“Price promotions are marketing techniques used to drive sales and increase consumption. They are not free gifts and they do not save us money.

“We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, and consumers are being bombarded with price promotions which increase spending on the unhealthiest products.

“Wales needs to shift the balance and support families to make buying fruit and veg easier”.

A consultant for Public Health Wales, Dr Ilona Johnson, said: “This is an incredibly complex issue and there is no single solution.

“We know that from the evidence that policies targeting the food environment are effective and a strong legislative framework is an important step in helping us to shift the balance towards healthier choices and healthier people.”

Tory shadow minister for health James Evans MS said: “Obesity is a pressing issue across the Western world that is a costly drain on the limited resources of our precious Welsh NHS and it is a shame that is has taken the Welsh Government this long to address the problem.

“However, during the cost of living pressures we are all facing, we need cast iron assurances from the Welsh Labour Government that they do not intend to ban meal deals and that any new regulations will not increase the average weekly cost for shoppers.”

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: “Plaid Cymru supports measures that focus on making it easier to choose healthy lifestyle options.

“In a cost of living crisis, when too many families are struggling to put food on the table at all, this shouldn’t be about preventing discounts on food. Being able to put some food on the table is better than there being no food on the table at all.

“It’s so important to find the balance between taking steps that could prevent poor future health rather than measures that involve the government restricting what we can do when too many households are already facing unreasonable squeeze on their budgets.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

Somebody has to do it…

What are we but game birds, put up by the Tory beaters for our short flight on to the guns of Corporate Britain, to be brought down and bagged, hung by the neck and laid out on the slab of capitalism…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Welsh Gov is causing chaos in the prescription service…

My mother in law is kept alive by medication, if she comes to harm Mark Drakeford and the Baroness will be responsible…

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
8 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Why are you talking to yourself?
Have you forgotten to logout and log back in with your other username?

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago
Reply to  Nobby Tart

That was a bit tart nobby…

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 months ago

Slapping bans on is all well and good but unless you inform people about why these choices are less beneficial you will not modify behaviours. This stuff becomes addictive. It may appear cheaper but does not feed the body in the way the less processed options do the job. It does a good job of enriching peddlers of sugar and salt enhanced products.

Dafydd
Dafydd
8 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Really? Do we really need (chubby) Mayonnaise Police in our lives or does everyone know that the sandwich with mayo will be higher calories and that a ‘full fat’ Coke has more calories than Diet Coke (sugar already taxed higher anyway). Absolute meddling micro managing monkeys!

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 months ago
Reply to  Dafydd

Read my comment again, f-wit. My point is that it takes a sight more than a ban to modify behaviours. Your anxiety to make a point about some sort of right to kill yourself should have been made separately, not as a reply.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

LoL…

Glen
Glen
8 months ago

They need to set an example by first tackling the “obesity crisis” amongst government ministers.

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 months ago
Reply to  Glen

They are beyond salvage Glen. Walking ( just about) adverts for branded snacking products combined with expensive corporate entertainment ( lunches and/or evenings)

Barbara H.
Barbara H.
8 months ago

There is not a simple solution. People will stilll seek out the high sugar, high salt and high fat food and preprepared products that they have become addicted to. Occasional intake is OK. As I live alone, I find it difficult to buy just one item. Multipacks of cakes and often buy one get one free offers on top of the multipacks of items add to the increasing health issues waiting to explode. Food education is going to have to be introduced to children at a school level. A lot of parents have been weened onto junk food so they… Read more »

Will Westman
Will Westman
8 months ago

The typical neoliberal Labour party approach of placing bans and sin taxes, rather than addressing the systemtic issue of obesity (Fresh food being unaffordable to working class people, therefore the working class has no choice to go for processed items). Ever wondered why Wales has the highest obesity in Europe, compare the affordability of Fresh food compared to say Portugal and Spain (I might have to double check). Even when taking into account the wages and cost of living within those respective nations, those nations have lower obesity rates. Although granted this issue is present across the global north, but… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
8 months ago

I think education is the way forward, with lessons in all our schools, followed by , maybe Senedd sponsored TV ads, explaining not only the health values, but how eating less of these types of food will help the NHS, and not only promote good health, but save the nation money in the long term.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
8 months ago

I can understand why the WG are doing this. Much of our ‘convenience food’ is causing lots of unhealthiness. I am happy they are taking steps to improve this. As a teacher, I am very, very concerned with the so-called energy drinks that youngsters are finding too easy to get hold of. I see the side effects that these drinks are having (irritability, hyperactivity, lack of perspective etc.). I urge the WG to take steps to either ban these demon drinks completely, or make them difficult to buy for youngsters (similar to how they have dealt with tobacco products, e.g.… Read more »

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