The government must do more to reduce the number of cut-price and multi-buy offers on unhealthy food to help curb childhood obesity, a group of MPs say. The report, by the Health Select Committee, also calls for rules on junk food advertisements to be made tougher. It argues the government’s official obesity plan contains “vague statements” that are “inadequate”. But ministers say the strategy is the world’s “most ambitious plan on childhood obesity”. The main features of the government’s long-awaited childhood obesity plan, published in October 2016, were a sugar levy and a voluntary target to cut sugar in children’s food and drink by 20% by 2020. But health organisations and campaigners were almost universally of the view that there should have been wider action. In the latest Health Select Committee report, MPs made further calls for curbs on big discounts and price promotions on unhealthy food, citing evidence from the food industry that responsible retailers were being disadvantaged by those who continued to offer discounts on food high in sugar and fat. The report states the committee is “extremely disappointed” the government has not regulated discounting and price promotions to offer retailers a “level playing field”. But the committee welcomed moves by retailers “such as Aldi and Lidl” that have reduced the number of multi-buy deals and focused on a single price, in order to reduce consumption. Sainsbury’s says it has removed multibuys too. Public Health England will monitor the effects of the sugar levy.
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