This conference discussed latest thinking and developments on what more can be done to reduce high fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS) consumption in the UK - with a focus on the ongoing policy discussion, advertising regulation, and priorities for industry.
It followed publication of the Government’s Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s green paper - which included Chapter 3 of the childhood obesity plan - and set out plans on front-of-pack nutritional labelling, nutritional content of commercially available baby food and drinks, revised salt reduction targets to be released in 2020 for industry to achieve by mid-2023 and reducing sugar.
Sessions brought out latest thinking on the practical challenges of product reformulation.
It followed the progress report from PHE in September on the sugar reduction programme which found a varied picture, with:
- some progress by manufacturers and retailers in specific food categorises including spreads, sauces, breakfast cereals, and yoghurt products, but missed opportunities elsewhere, including in chocolate confectionary, cakes, biscuits, and puddings; and
- indications of better good progress in the out of home sector on sugar reduction.
Delegates discussed the remaining issues and next steps for reformulation - including the options building on the relative success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, and the role of voluntary sugar reduction targets going forward.
Discussion looked at engaging with consumers and overcoming cost barriers to reformulation.
The seminar came following findings from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition report on Saturated fats and health which maintained current advice that saturated fats should make up no more than around 10% of dietary energy and recommended swapping saturated fats with unsaturated fats, with correlations found between high saturated fat consumption and raised blood cholesterol as well as risk of heart disease.
It also followed the Chief Medical Officer being asked to review what more is required to meet the Government’s target of halving child obesity by 2030 and publishing her report Time to Solve Child Obesity on the day of the seminar.
Attendees also considered the role of broadcasters, media and marketing and the future of HFSS advertisement regulation - with the expected UK Nutrient Profiling Model review that will determine which products are considered unhealthy.
Discussion considered the two closed consultations on advertising restrictions for HFSS products and in-store HFSS product placement and promotions.
Delegates also assessed the practicalities involved in regulating in-store product placement and promotional offers and the wider role of retailers in promoting healthy choices - as well as improving the nutritional content of own brand ranges.
Further sessions looked at local initiatives for boosting community awareness of HFSS, and included case studies from those who have developed healthy eating partnerships and strategies as well as those who have developed innovative planning processes, powers, and advertising restrictions.
Discussion also looked at developing an Out of Home Strategy for Scotland and the impact of the London Food Strategy, which included a plan to ban junk food advertisements on the Transport for London network.