Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Policy on consumption of HFSS products - key issues and next steps for marketing, labelling, reformulation and work of the Office for Health Promotion

Morning, Thursday, 1st July 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine latest developments and next steps for managing the consumption of products high in fat, sugar and salt.

With a senior speaker confirmed from DHSC, the agenda is structured to bring out latest thinking on policy and industry practice, looking at marketing, labelling and reformulation, as well as the wider food environment.

The conference will be an opportunity to discuss the Government’s Tackling Obesity strategy, which includes restrictions on the marketing of HFSS products in stores and on digital platforms - with the issues brought into even sharper focus by findings on the link between obesity and worse outcomes from COVID-19.

Sessions also look at:

  • the UK’s food and drink sector and the challenges it is currently facing
  • the new Office for Health Promotion and the future approach to public health in the UK
  • food habits and consumption, including how they have been affected by the pandemic
  • support for the sector and ensuring that policy and best practice are implemented and adhered to

Overall, discussion will focus on:

  • taking forward the obesity strategy - including options for a more interventionist approach to obesity and public health, and alignment with wider policy
  • HFSS interventions - latest thinking on:
    • marketing, advertising and reformulation
    • progress and supporting implementation
    • analysis and utilising behavioural insights methods - latest developments
  • labelling - options for front-of-pack nutrition labelling and issues for implementation
  • healthy choices - support, and next steps for the wider food environment
  • public health - developments and priorities including the impact of the pandemic, the role of the new Office of Health Promotion, and taking an evidence-based approach

The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from DHSC; BEIS; DCMS; Defra; Food Standards Scotland; the NAO and The Scottish Government.

The agenda:

  • Taking forward the Obesity Plan and reduction in HFSS consumption - what has been achieved, emerging themes and next steps
  • Stakeholder perspectives on HFSS policy - assessing developments in reformulation, marketing and regulation, and behaviour change
    • HFSS and advertising regulation - developments and priorities for industry and broadcasters
    • Promoting healthy choices in-store and changes to labelling, promotional offers and point of sale marketing
    • How public attitudes are evolving and the impact of the pandemic on consumption habits
    • Promoting healthy choices and reformulating existing products - consumers, challenges and lessons learned
    • Developing an evidence-based approach to public health messages and HFSS policy
  • Developments in front-of-pack nutrition labelling - assessing options for improvement and key considerations for effective implementation
  • Addressing the wider food environment and supporting healthy choices
    • calorie labelling and the role of the out-of-home sector
    • learning from previous HFSS interventions
    • consumer habits and the pandemic
    • supporting child health
  • The future approach to public health in England and the role of the new Office of Health Promotion

A scan of relevant developments:

  • Tackling obesity: government strategy - a plan of action for helping to reduce obesity amongst adults and children
    • stressing the particular current importance in the context of COVID-19 and the link between obesity and mortality
    • including plans for:
      • reviewing the current traffic light labelling system
      • legislating calorie labelling for large out-of-home food businesses
      • limiting marketing of HFSS products by restrictions on the volume and placement of promotions
      • introducing a 9pm watershed on HFSS product advertisements
      • expanding weight management services and driving a new public health campaign
  • Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt by location and by price - the Government response to public consultation which:
    • sets out plans to present secondary legislation before Parliament by mid-2021 which will:
      • restrict promotion by location and price, such as in store entrances, aisle ends, checkouts
      • prohibit retailers offering multi-buy discount of BOGOF promotions on HFSS goods
    • commits to at least a 6-month implementation period before the restrictions come into force, and to review and evaluate the policy within five years from implementation
  • Blueprint launched for NHS and social care reform following pandemic - proposals to join up health and social care services, using lessons learned from COVID-19 to create a more efficient system
    • following on from the NHS Long Term Plan, which sets out to modernize the NHS, and the recent white paper which sets out the legislative impact of changes
    • with plans to allow:
      • the Secretary of State to direct the NHS to take on important public health requirements, such as assisting in tackling obesity by creating further restrictions on HFSS foods
      • ministers to make specific changes to food labelling requirements to ensure consumers can make healthier choices by informing them more clearly on the contents of their food and drink
  • New Office for Health Promotion to drive improvement of nation’s health - the new body will seek to improve the nation’s mental and physical health, through improving the linking of social care services and promoting physical activity
  • Mandating calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector - outcomes of the recent Government consultation, with recommendations on:
    • local authorities’ responsibilities in checking for compliance with the new legislation
    • the displaying of calorie information, and the methods used to measure the calorie content of products
  • Front-of-pack nutrition labelling in the UK: building on success - the closed consultation on learning from previous calorie labelling regulation, focusing on ways the traffic light system can be improved
  • the National Food Strategy:
    • publication of Part One, which supported the measures introduced within the Government’s Obesity Strategy
    • part two expected soon, outlining the actions required to address challenges in the food system
  • Total restriction of online advertising for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) - recent consultation on the implementation and enforcement of the HFSS advertising 9pm watershed

Key areas for discussion:

Taking forward the Obesity Strategy:

  • integration with wider policy - how well does the strategy align with the wider policy landscape for dealing with obesity, Type 2 diabetes and other associated health risks
  • COVID-19 - issues for delivering the strategy during the pandemic and the nation’s recovery, as well as evaluating the challenges and the opportunities this presents
  • implementation, consumer response and behavioural insight - assessing outstanding issues for stakeholders, public health and policy arising from advertising restrictions, looking at:
    • stakeholder engagement and an evidence-based approach - strategies for setting out why tackling these issues is important from a public health perspective, and the evidence behind restrictions
    • reformulating existing products - what has been learned so far:
      • from what industry bodies have done up until now to alter the nutritional content of existing products
      • about consumer reactions to changes in familiar products
      • for the potential impact of further HFSS restrictions
    • advertising watersheds:
      • the impact that a 9pm watershed would have on the food and drink industry, as well as the advertising industry, and overcoming any challenges it poses
      • options for effective enforcement and implementation, including the challenges of recordings and online advertising
      • the ways in which the restrictions will affect and encourage reformulation to meet the advertising requirements
    • retailer issues:
      • latest thinking on the potential effect of the restrictions to product location and what support is needed, especially during a time of increased pressures due to Brexit and the pandemic
      • how to ensure continuity between retailers of different sizes, and ways that retailers are supporting consumers to make healthy choices in-store
    • progress and further options:
      • examining what has been achieved by stakeholders so far in reducing the consumption of HFSS goods
      • what further steps can be taken outside of restrictions, such as promotion and support for healthier food products
    • informing future interventions:
      • priorities for research, and understanding how consumers have responded to HFSS interventions recently and in the past
      • utilising behavioural insights methods to support the effectiveness of new regulatory approaches

Front-of-pack nutrition labelling:

  • effectiveness - the role that nutrition labelling is playing in supporting people to make healthier choices
  • options for change - what aspects require improvement, the potential for new models, and what can be learned from approaches used abroad
  • practicalities - considerations for implementing any amendments to the labelling regime, assessing the evidence base and impact on industry, and supporting consumer understanding of changes

The wider food environment:

  • issues for out-of-home:
    • information for consumers - assessing the impact of changes to the requirements for calorie labelling on food menus
    • reformulation - looking at key issues and options
    • effectiveness - priorities for ensuring measures go far enough in helping people to make healthier choices when eating out
  • supporting healthy choices for children - discussing the impact of restrictions to HFSS advertising on young viewers, and ways of supporting parents and children to make healthy food choices
  • COVID-19:
    • consumer behaviour - what the pandemic has meant for the food sector and consumer habits, including increased use of take-away options and the use of online platforms
    • public attitudes - how the pandemic and resulting lockdowns have affected consumers’ relationship with HFSS products and eating habits
  • learning from previous HFSS policy interventions - how they have shaped the current landscape and what can be taken forward as part of new strategies and initiatives to improve the food environment

The new Office for Health Promotion:

  • priorities and the policy context:
    • COVID-19 - how the pandemic has changed the policy landscape and what it will mean for the focus of the Office
    • Tackling Obesity - taking forward the strategy, and the Office’s approach to obesity and public health
  • role, scope and relationships - priorities for joint working on health promotion and cross-governmental collaboration, as well as measuring progress
  • going forward:
    • a more interventionist approach to obesity - what it means in the long term, and the opportunities it presents the role of the Office for Health Promotion in policy formulation in the future
    • tackling health inequalities - priorities for overcoming obstacles and ensuring equitable access to healthy food choices
    • the future - what further policies and measures are available for HFSS interventions and regulation

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; the DCMS; Defra; the Department of Health and Social Care; Food Standards Scotland; the National Audit Office and The Scottish Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from stakeholders concerned with or affected by public health measures aimed at reducing obesity, representatives of the food and drink industry including associations, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers, health and dietary professionals, local government officials, advertising and marketing companies, research and think tanks, lawyers and consultancies, academics and commentators, charities and consumer groups, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Senior speaker confirmed from the Department of Health and Social Care

Stephen Pugh

Managing Director, Food Labelling Consultants


Baroness Jenkin of Kennington

Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Food and Health Forum

Dr James Davies MP

Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity


Nika Strukelj

Policy and Special Projects Manager, Bite Back 2030

Dominic Watkins

Partner, Head of Retail, Food & Hospitality Sector, DWF

Phil Smith

Director General, ISBA

Amy Glass

UK Diet and Health Policy Manager, Food and Drink Federation

Dr Caroline Saunders

Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Director, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe