Dr Hilary highlights link between coronavirus and obesity
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After coronavirus was found to have a more serious impact on those who are obese, the Prime Minister announced his plans to help get the nation into shape. Last month the Department of Health and Social Care said it was planning to curb the advertising of products high in fat, salt and sugar as part of the healthy eating drive.
Junk food adverts would be banned online and before the 9pm watershed on TV.
In order to ensure small independent businesses, such as local bakeries, were not penalised for advertising on Instagram and other social media platforms an exemption was introduced for small firms.
Any company that employs fewer than 250 people will not have to abide by the rules.
However, there are concerns the current plans would also exempt large multinational companies that are largely based abroad.
A company based overseas that employs fewer than 250 staff in the UK would also qualify for the exemption.
It would mean firms based in countries such as France, Germany or even the chocolate-making capital of the world Belgium, would be free to continue advertising.
“This loophole means the only impact of the Government’s policy on obesity will be the hollowing out of UK food manufacturing,” one insider at a UK firm told The Telegraph.
“If they don’t want the jobs we create, we’ll have no choice but to take them elsewhere.
“This ‘junk food loophole’ just makes the new proposals look like they were designed by clowns.”
A boss of a UK food manufacturer added: “They will make it extremely difficult for companies like ours to compete if this loophole stays open.
“In the end this will mean UK job losses within the next few years – possibly thousands across the industry.”
When approached for comment the Department of Health did not deny the botched rules could currently exempt firms based abroad.
However, it indicated additional rules could be introduced to close the current loophole.
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A spokesman for the department said: “We are committed to addressing the damaging impact of obesity, particularly in the pandemic, and last month announced new rules on advertising unhealthy foods online to protect the public health of the country.
“To ensure small businesses aren’t disproportionately impacted by the changes, the restrictions will only apply to businesses with 250 or more employees that make or sell these products.
“The Government has taken care to ensure this exemption is only used by small and medium-sized enterprises, and further detail will be set out in secondary legislation.”
The legislation is due to come into effect from 2023.
Last month Mr Johnson said the plans were necessary to “get a grip” on obesity in the UK.
He said: “I’m afraid we do have a national struggle with obesity, and we need to deal with it.
“Let’s get a grip on it.
“Sending out a signal in the way we treat advertising is entirely right.”
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