The Association of Convenience Stores has questioned aspects of the Government’s newly published Childhood Obesity strategy, which includes plans for a levy on soft drinks manufacturers that produce high sugar products in addition to a range of other measures.

The measures announced include:

• Introducing a soft drinks industry levy on manufacturers of drinks with added sugar, and total sugar content of five grams or more per 100 millilitres.

• Taking out 20% of sugar in products: All sectors of the food and drinks industry will be challenged to reduce overall sugar across a range of products that contribute to children’s sugar intakes by at least 20% by 2020, including a 5% reduction in year one. The programme will initially focus on the nine categories that make the largest contributions to children’s sugar intakes: breakfast cereals, yoghurts, 5 biscuits, cakes, confectionery, morning goods (e.g. pastries), puddings, ice cream and sweet spreads.

• Developing a new framework by updating the nutrient profile model: Public Health England is working with academics, industry, health Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders, to review the nutrient profile model to ensure it reflects the latest government dietary guidelines.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The convenience sector is keen to work with the Department of Health to promote healthy eating and lifestyle change in stores, and we will continue to engage with members about how they can raise the profile of healthy food in their stores.

“Any policy changes must be evidence based and should not disproportionately affect retailers. We are not convinced that a soft drinks tax is an effective way to tackle the obesity issue in the UK and we will respond to the HMRC consultation on this measure explaining the impact it could have on convenience stores.”

ACS has been an active contributor to the Change4Life programme since its launch, promoting healthy eating and an increase in the range of fruit and vegetables in convenience stores. Fruit and vegetables are one of the fastest growing categories in the convenience sector.