Government meetings to strike “Responsibility deal” with industry on health

The role of advertising in improving people’s health could be discussed in a series of meetings that will allow the Government to develop its “public health responsibility deal” between government, charities, consumer groups and the food and drinks industry.

Trade bodies, retailers and manufacturers, including the Advertising Association, Food and Drink Federation, Diageo
and Unilever, and supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, are to take part in a series of meetings with ministers aimed at promoting healthier lifestyles.

In addition to the main meetings, five networks will discuss food, alcohol, health at work, physical activity and behaviour change issues. It is likely the latter will touch on the role of marketing.

The meetings aim to develop ideas originally set out by the Public Health Commission in 2008, initiated by the then shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley to develop a “holistic” approach to public health.

Discussions also include the formation of a voluntary system among fast-food chains and restaurants that could involve calorie counts displayed on menus, tables and counters.

Sainsbury’s and Tesco told Marketing Week that they plan to include calorie counts on menus in all their customer restaurants next year, after trials.

How to reduce fat, salt and sugar content in foods is also understood to be on the items for discussion.

A Department of Health spokesman told Marketing Week that all involved share a “collective responsibility” to improve the nation’s health.

“That’s why they have joined the Government in a responsibility deal, a partnership to promote and empower us all to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

“Together we will work on effective and innovative ways of encouraging and enabling us all to take more exercise, eat better, drink responsibly and generally be more healthy.”

Discussions follow Lansley’s announcement earlier this year that he wants the food and drink industry to take a bigger role in the Change4Life anti-obesity initiative, including helping fund it.

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