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Boris Johnson’s new anti-obesity strategy is paternalistic and short-sighted

Date

10 Jul 2020

Sections

InfoSociety

London, UK - Boris Johnson is expected to introduce legislation which will stop buy one, get one free deals on fatty and sugary snacks such as sweets and chocolate. He is also expected to introduce a ban on promoting chocolate and sweets at the end of supermarket aisles, according to The Times.

In response, Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center, said that no one is denying the dangers that obesity poses to our health and wellbeing. However, more nannying will only make things worse by depriving consumers of choice and won’t solve the problem long-term.

“The costs of living in the UK are already very high, and the bans suggested by the Prime Minister will only increase the financial burden for low-income families. It is usually the vulnerable consumers who find deals attractive, and taking this away from them without offering a viable alternative is deeply inhumane,” said Chaplia.

“Marketing restrictions and free deals bans reduce the issue of obesity only to nutrition while obesity is also a matter of physical inactivity. Levels of physical activity have dropped by a quarter since 1961, according to Public Health England. Walking activity among Britons fell from 255 miles per year in 1976 to 179 miles in 2010. Daily calorie intake in the UK is also decreasing each decade. It is exercise that many people are lacking, and we should educate consumers about this fact,” said Chaplia.

“Before rushing to decisions such as bans, we have to consider the costs of it and whether the benefits are sustainable in the long run. For example, one study found that 62% of UK shoppers claim to have not changed their consumption behaviour in any way as a result of the introduction of the costly sugar tax,” said Chaplia.

“We need an extensive societal dialogue on how to tackle obesity. We at the Consumer Choice Center believe that the best way forward is innovation and education, and we hope that it’s still not too late to move the needle away from interventionism,” concluded Chaplia.

You can read the Consumer Choice Center’s policy note on consumer-friendly ways to tackle obesity in the UK here

***CCC European Affairs Associate Maria Chaplia is available to speak with accredited media on consumer regulations and consumer choice issues. Please send media inquiries HERE.***

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The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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