U.K.’s New Prime Minister Targets Country’s Aggressive Food Nannies
Health experts in the United Kingdom say it has a massive obesity problem, with around two-thirds of Brits classified as overweight. And because England has socialized health care, everybody is responsible for paying the additional medical expenses that may come from treating those who are obese, which the National Health Service (NHS) calculates at more than 6 billion pounds a year (almost $7 billion).
For the past five years, U.K. officials have attempted to address the problem by blaming just about everybody except those who overeat—advertisers, supermarkets, restaurants—and putting into place very broad, very strict regulations to fight junk food, or at least what the government defines as junk food. Advertising bans on junk food have been written so broadly that they also affect foods like cheese, butter, and olive oil. London introduced a ban on junk food ads so far-reaching that the government had to change ads on its transit systems because they included images of forbidden foods like strawberries and cream.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, U.K. health officials used it to crank up the nanny state regulations even further. In 2020, the government announced additional bans on junk food advertising, new rules on where unhealthy foods could be displayed in markets, and a prohibition on two-for-one deals featuring foods the government has decided are unhealthy.
Then the inflation and supply shortages got worse. Then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided in May to delay the bans. Deliberately driving up food prices amid a supply and inflation crisis did seem like a bad idea, but health officials were furious that he didn’t follow through.
Truss might look to scrap the nanny food campaign entirely, supported by her health secretary and Deputy Prime
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