28/12/20 – Two Cheers and One Misgiving – Helen Clark Welcomes the End of BOGOFs

Helen Clark: Lead Author for the APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood

As we approach the end of the most difficult year in our lifetimes, a headline in today’s ‘Daily Mail’ will cheer APPG members and supporters alike:

‘Buy one, get one free’ junk food offers will be banned’

Daily Mail, 28 December 2020

From April 2022, ‘BOGOF’ deals on fizzy drinks, crisps, fatty foods, and other items will be banned in medium and large stores and also on websites. Read the article here.

Free re-fills of sugary soft drinks will be outlawed in fast food outlets and restaurants and the ruling will apply to in-store promotions of foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) to deter parents from succumbing to potential child ‘pester power’.

The unhealthy promotions will no longer be placed in key sites such as store entrances, aisle ends and checkouts.

Many organisations will welcome the news, but those who have contributed in any way whatsoever to the work of the APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood have special cause to raise a (non-sugary, non-fizzy) glass today as the contents of these APPG reports bear witness:

  • ‘Healthy Patterns for Healthy Families,’ (2014)
  • ‘Food in School and the Teaching of Food,’ (2015)
  • ‘The National Obesity Framework,’ (2016)
  • ‘Maternal Obesity,’ (2017)
  • Healthy Families: The Present and Future Role of the Supermarket,’ (2020)
  • ‘Emerging Dietary Patterns,’ (1) (2020)
  • ‘Emerging Dietary Patterns in the Wake of a Pandemic,’ (2) (2020)

A very big ‘thank you’ from the APPG to everybody who has helped us to make our persistent case to the Government year on year. We hope that 2021 will see further advances from this good start.

However, with two cheers comes one misgiving – also chronicled by today’s ‘Daily Mail.’

Just two pages after the groundbreaking news about ‘Buy One Get One Free’ the ‘Mail’ has chosen to illustrate a two page feature on the Prime Minister’s Brexit Christmas Deal by means of a full-page colour photograph of the said Boris Johnson, relaxing in his office. Entitled:

‘Portrait of a PM on the brink of history’

The paper depicts our PM in expansive mode, sitting in his Downing Street office, feet crossed on his desk.

It is an authoritative, confident Johnson that meets the eye.

However, earlier this year, the Prime Minister cited his own unhealthy weight levels for a particularly unpleasant experience of COVID-19, entailing a spell in intensive care at St Thomas’s Hospital from which he emerged with a laudable new determination to attack the nation’s obesity crisis.

Today’s junk food announcement is evidence of that resolve.

However, ‘The Daily Mail’ (a paper that has itself campaigned prominently, effectively and tirelessly against the national obesity epidemic) has elected to pick out items on the PM’s desk and define them (alongside the collective caption of ‘desk dining’ ) by means of large red signposts.

In this way, ‘The Daily Mail’ draws the attention of its readers to:

  • ‘An open box of Maltesers Truffles’
  • ‘Two bottle of Heineken’
  • ‘A takeaway from burger chain Five Guys’
  • ‘An open box of Quality Street chocolates’
  • ‘A bottle of Coca-Cola next to a wine glass.’

Thus, The Daily Mail has shown the nation that those who make policy should also be ambassadors for that policy.

The APPG on A Fit and Healthy Childhood hopes that policymakers including the Prime Minister will heed that wise advice.

Meanwhile, we are not about to rest on our own laurels. If efforts to combat COVID-19 are not to be undermined we must renew our campaigning attack on childhood obesity.

2021 is going to be a VERY busy year.

OUR work continues NOW!

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