The HFSS Foods Initiative – Will it Make us Healthier?

HFSS foods are foods that are high in fat and/or sugars and/or salt. 

The new Government initiative to combat obesity aims to hamper the marketing of the HFSS foods in three ways:

1) restricting advertising of HFSS items

2) making placement of HFSS items less obvious in stores

3) stopping BOGOF ‘buy one, get one free’ and similar offers on HFSS items

These rules are expected to come into force in October 2022  [this is six months later than the date announced previously].

A number of people are sceptical about the likely success of this initiative.  Will it work?  The question is:

  1. will it reduce the number of HFSS items being consumed and
  2. will it reduce obesity?

The assumption made is that 1) automatically produces 2).  But does it?

In fairness, what’s good about this HFSS initiative is that, apart from the initial publicity, there will be no direct message about the foods being harmful.  The products will be less obvious and there should be less temptation to purchase, especially if BOGOF isn’t allowed.

However, the choice of foods consumed (and the quantity!) is probably the result of many factors.  Previous schemes aimed at encouraging healthy eating, both in children and adults appear to have done nothing to reduce obesity levels in the UK.  The weight loss industry is worth billions, and you can’t help thinking that if it worked, obesity levels, and the number of people buying into the products in this industry would be reducing.

We can’t help feeling that until the real causes of obesity, diabetes, dental problems and so on are addressed, such initiatives will have only a modest success, if any.  What we do know is that the body and mind are inextricably linked and therefore our emotions must play a part.  Feeling afraid, guilty, greedy, ashamed, out of control etc. have been the result of years of negativity about the consumption of various types of food and drink.  Could these beliefs or values about the foods we consume be making an impact on how our bodies process it and store fat?

Some manufacturers are known to be looking at taking some of their products out of the HFSS bracket with reformulation or developing completely new products.  That would seem to be a quick win for the Government.  But we need to be cautious about the make-up of these revised products.  Reducing sugars and fat while maintaining the sweetness and mouthfeel is often achieved by including various additives.  With the current trend towards ‘natural’ products, additives really don’t fit in well with that.

We do also wonder why this initiative isn’t being applied to alcohol. 

The HFSS Foods Initiative – Will it Make us Healthier?

HFSS foods are foods that are high in fat and/or sugars and/or salt. The new Government initiative to combat obesity aims to hamper the marketing of the HFSS foods in three ways:

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