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The Department of Health and Social Care launched a consultation today (12 January) on bringing in more restrictions on how retailers promote food and drink that is high in fat, salt and sugar.

The consultation, in similar lines to the one just concluded in Scotland, proposes new rules to restrict retailers using multibuy promotions, such as ‘buy one, get one free’, and promotions at checkouts, end of aisles and store entrances of junk food.

The 12-week consultation is part of the government’s childhood obesity plan.

“Tackling childhood obesity means working together across society, with industry, public services and families all having a role to play. All too often we hear people say less healthy foods are cheaper and easier but that is simply not the case,” said Public Health Minister Steve Brine.

“This is about ensuring businesses are doing their part to shift the balance and help children and families eat healthier options like fruit and vegetables.”

DHSC said in a statement that the new rules would only apply to deals that promote junk food that are most often consumed by children and would not stop discounts on household essentials. Businesses would also still be free to offer discounts for individual sales.

Similar proposals in Scottish consultation drew ire from trade bodies which termed the restrictions as ‘lacking in evidence, badly thought through and unenforceable.’

“We believe that any measures to restrict the promotion and sale of HFSS products must be evidence based and not disproportionately affect small stores. Promotions are an important way that smaller stores deliver value and compete with other businesses, by restricting the use of these tools for certain products, smaller retailers will be disadvantaged,” commented James Lowman, chief executive of Association of Convenience Stores responding to the proposals.