Why might UK scrap anti-obesity drive?

New PM plans ‘deregulatory’ review of Boris Johnson’s health strategy

Liz Truss
Liz Truss opposed obesity rules during the Tory leadership campaign
(Image credit: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

Liz Truss could cancel the government’s anti-obesity measures after ministers ordered an official review of policies deterring people from eating junk food.

The Guardian said the review could “pave the way” for the new PM to lift the ban on sugary products being sold at supermarket checkouts and “buy one get one free” multi-buy offers, and scrap restrictions on advertising certain products on TV before the 9pm watershed.

It may also lead to the scrapping of calorie information on cafe and restaurant menus, and could even lead to the abolition of the sugar tax, which was launched in 2018.

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The review, which was ordered by the Treasury, is “deregulatory in focus”, a source told The Guardian, and suggests that Truss is diverging from the path of former PM Boris Johnson, who had made tackling foods high in fat, salt or sugar a personal priority after his admission to intensive care with Covid.

In contrast, Truss pledged during the Tory leadership campaign to scrap obesity measures if she won. “Those taxes are over,” she told the Daily Mail last month.

Meanwhile, there is support for her plans in cabinet. The Guardian reported that there “doesn’t seem to be any appetite” from Thérèse Coffey – the new health secretary and deputy prime minister – for “nanny state stuff”.

Truss’s rumoured plans would be likely to “prompt major concerns from health campaigners”, said Sky News, and could “precipitate a clash with some MPs within the Tory party”.

It could also see the new PM face the “wrath of retailers who have already spent millions” making changes to displays in their stores based on Johnson’s plans, according to trade magazine The Grocer.

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