Sweets on checkouts 'to be banned' to fight childhood obesity

Sweets on checkouts and two-for-one junk food deals will reportedly be banned in supermarkets under a new Government campaign against child obesity.

Sweets on checkouts could be banned as part of the fight against childhood obesity

A 9pm television watershed like that for violence and sex will also be introduced by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for foods high in sugar and salt from 2020, the Telegraph claimed.

It said ministers were also considering barring cartoons and celebrities from promoting junk food and would consult on making it illegal to sell energy drinks to under-16s.

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Unlimited refills of sugary soft drinks in restaurants may also be outlawed by the child obesity strategy, the newspaper claimed.

It said that consultations on restricting and banning certain sales would be launched before the end of 2018.

It cited the report as saying: "Where food is placed in shops and how it is promoted can influence the way we shop and it is more common for HFSS (high in fat sugar and salt) products to be placed in the most prominent places in store as well as sold on promotion, eg with 'buy one get one free' offers."

The report comes the day after research was released showing around half of television food and drink adverts seen by children are for HFSS products or for fast food restaurants.

The advertising of junk food products has been banned during children's programmes since 2007 but the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on Thursday found that 70% of TV campaigns for HFSS products or restaurants and bars are screened prior to the 9pm watershed.

Evidence from Ofcom suggests that in 2016 children spent 64% of their viewing time watching television outside children's programming.

On Wednesday, the Health and Social Care Select Committee said cartoon characters should be banned from promoting junk food to improve childhood obesity rates.

Such a ban would mean that characters such as Tony the Tiger and the Milky Bar Kid would have to be dropped or used to promote healthier products. And cartoon characters from the latest summer blockbuster would no longer appear on the packaging or adverts for fast food.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "We've always said that our 2016 plan was the start of the conversation, not the final word on obesity.

"We are in the process of working up an updated plan, and will be in a position to say more shortly."