In Brief

Junk food discount deals to be axed as Boris Johnson begins war on obesity

Government accused of mixed messages as PM plans supermarket crackdown while chancellor pushes ‘Eat Out’ scheme

Boris Johnson is preparing to kick off the government’s new anti-obesity drive with a ban on supermarket promotions of unhealthy food.

The prime minister had previously declared himself “very libertarian” on food choices, but now says that the global outbreak of coronavirus - which has been shown to hit obese people harder - has convinced him to take action on unhealthy eating, reports The Times.

Shortly before becoming Tory leader last July, Johnson said he would end the “continuing creep of the nanny state” if he got into Downing Street, starting with a review of taxes on sugary, salty and fatty foods, as The Telegraph reported at the time.

But under the new plans, expected to be unveiled within weeks, shops may be barred from offering “buy one, get one free” deals on unhealthy food. 

The measures are also likely to include banning sweets and chocolates from being promoted at supermarket entrances and the ends of aisles.

And “restaurant and takeaway menus could be forced to include a calorie count for each meal”, reports the Daily Mirror.

News of the proposals comes just days after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the government’s new “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme, which is intended to boost the UK’s hospitality industry by encouraging more people to dine at restaurants, cafes and pubs.

Obesity campaigners told Daily Mail that it “defies belief” that ministers are considering to adopt the “sensible” plans to help millions lose weight just a day after announcing the “stupid” move to offer cut-price meals.

Experts claim that the government has given a “green light for junk food” with the “Eat Out” scheme, which offers 50% discounts on meals at restaurants and fast-food chains including Burger King.

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