British retailers have demanded more action from the government to tackle obesity, with them calling for compulsory measures to make products healthier.
Food manufacturers have been urged to make their products healthier and it is expected that the government will apply “strong guidance” on how to remake these products.
The British Retail Consortium, which represents more than 90 retailers, said the government would need to make this guidance mandatory in order for real change to take place.
“We believe voluntary approaches only take us so far,” said Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, deputy director of food and sustainability at the BRC.
“If you really want to make a difference then there is a need for stronger measures. Taxes might be one of way of doing it but there are alternatives to taxes such as mandatory targets.”
Martinez-Inchausti has said that there have already been major steps taken by the industry, with around 200,000 tons of sugar expected to be removed from food by 2020.
Currently, one in 10 deaths is linked to obesity and Public Health England have said they will be investigating the calorie content of foods popular with children, before issuing “strong guidance” on how to reformulate them.
The government are of the belief that having mandatory targets would result in slower implementation and less ambitious targets.
Companies such as Nestlé, Starbucks, Gregg’s and Kellogg’s have all pledged to reduce the amount sugar contained in their products, as has Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, M&S and Tesco.
Martinez-Inchausti claims that voluntary action tends to be reliant on the same companies and that the government needs to be engaging more business, including restaurants and smaller companies.
The Children’s Food Campaign has also backed this call for tougher action, saying that so far it had only “provided thin gruel for parents and health professionals keen to see significant progress on tackling childhood obesity”.