The prime minister had previously declared himself “very libertarian” on food choices and dismissed the idea of “sin taxes” in changing behaviour.
“A wealth of evidence shows that there is a clear link between food advertising and the food children choose,” said a spokesperson for the charity Action on Sugar.
“Advertising influences how much children eat – we need restrictions on promotions and advertising.”
“We will not stop asking for a 9pm advertising watershed too,” said the Children’s Food Campaign.
Anti-obesity groups have also criticised the government’s decision not to exclude fast food outlets from the half-price dining scheme in August. The National Obesity Forum said it was “a green light to promote any old junk [food] menu”.
But his own hospitalisation from Covid-19 appears to have convinced him that some state intervention is needed. He reportedly told advisers in May: “I have changed my mind on this.”
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However, Mr Johnson is said to remain uncertain about banning junk food advertising before 9pm – an idea still strongly opposed by food manufacturers, advertising agencies and broadcasters.
Public Health England is planning a fitness and healthy-eating campaign to encourage widespread lifestyle changes following the first wave of Covid-19.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Jenny Harries, has said that lockdown was an opportunity to get “super fit” ahead of a potential second wave of the coronavirus this winter.
“Obesity is actually problematic and that’s one of the things that we could do something about,” she said last week.
A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains is linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to two new studies published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) this week.
Boris Johnson’s government is expected to restrict supermarkets from offering discount deals on junk food as part of his promised anti-obesity drive.
New restrictions will see supermarkets banned from buy one, get one free offers on unhealthy products or promoting sweets and chocolate at the end of aisles, according to reports.
Ministers are also thought to be considering plans to bring in compulsory calorie counts on restaurant and takeaway menus under new proposals, first published in The Times.
The moves could put the prime minister at odds with free marketeers in the Conservative Party, but Mr Johnson is said to believe tough steps are now necessary to address the UK’s obesity problem – thought to be a key factor in the severity of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.
Anti-obesity campaigners welcomed the crackdown on discount deals, but urged the government to go further and introduce a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising.
1/50 9 July 2020
Artist Anish Kapoor looks into his sculpture ‘Sky Mirror’ at Houghton Hall, King’s Lynn, ahead of the opening of his largest UK exhibition of outdoor sculptures
2/50 8 July 2020
Players take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on the first day of the first Test cricket match between England and the West Indies at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton
3/50 7 July 2020
A circus performer from the Association of Circus Proprietors in Whitehall, London. The association handed a petition to Downing Street to ask Prime Minister Boris Johnson to allow circuses to reopen
4/50 6 July 2020
Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, which re-opened to the public after being closed due to the coronavirus lockdown
5/50 5 July 2020
People visit Columbia Road Flower Market, London, as it reopens following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions across England
6/50 4 July 2020
A member of bar staff wearing PPE in the form of a face mask, pours drinks inside the The Goldengrove in Stratford
7/50 3 July 2020
Cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands prior to the League One play-off semi final match between Portsmouth and Oxford United at Fratton Park
8/50 2 July 2020
A diver cleans the inside window of the seal tank at Tynemouth Aquarium in North Shields, as it prepares to open on Saturday after further coronavirus lockdown restrictions are lifted in England
9/50 1 July 2020
Slackliner Sandor Nagy practices on the beach in Boscombe, on the south coast of England
10/50 30 June 2020
(left to right) Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill attending the funeral of senior Irish Republican and former leading IRA figure Bobby Storey in west Belfast
11/50 29 June 2020
Former Team GB Rhythmic Gymnastic dancer Hannah Martin during a training session at Ouse Valley Viaduct in Sussex
12/50 28 June 2020
People visit Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire, that recently reopened following the easing of coronavirus lockdown restriction
13/50 27 June 2020
A protest for Justice for Shukri Abdi on Trafalgar Square in London, following a raft of Black Lives Matter protests across the UK
14/50 26 June 2020
Police at the scene of an incident at the Park Inn Hotel in central Glasgow. Scottish police said armed officers shot dead a man after a suspected stabbing in the city centre left six others injured, including one of their colleagues. Several roads were closed and the surrounding area was cordoned off
15/50 25 June 2020
A horse is washed down at Haydock Racecourse
16/50 24 June 2020
People enjoy the hot weather on Margate beach
17/50 23 June 2020
Tony Bennett the owner of The Devereux pub in Temple, London. Pub and hospitality bosses have cheered the Government’s proposals to allow customers through their doors again on July 4 as “a welcome relief”. PA Photo. Picture date: Tuesday June 23, 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that pubs, restaurants and cinemas will be able to reopen from July 4, with “one metre-plus” distancing measures in place
18/50 22 June 2020
Police forensics officers carry out a search near Forbury Gardens, in Reading town centre, the scene of a multiple stabbing attack which took place at around 7pm on Saturday, leaving three people dead and another three seriously injured
19/50 21 June 2020
Soccer Football – Premier League – Everton v Liverpool – Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain – June 21, 2020 Children play football outside the stadium before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
20/50 20 June 2020
Arsenal’s midfielder Nicolas Pepe kneels before the Premier League match against Brighton and Hove Albion at the American Express Community Stadium in southern England