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OP156 Qualitative exploration of local authority officers’ perspectives on the landmark food (promotion and placement) (England) regulations 2021
  1. Preeti Dhuria1,
  2. Sarah Muir1,
  3. Sarah Jenner1,2,
  4. Emma Roe3,
  5. Wendy Lawrence4,
  6. Janis Baird1,5,6,
  7. Christina Vogel1,5,7
  1. 1Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  2. 2School of Psychology, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  3. 3School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  4. 4Primary Care, Population Science and Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  5. 5National Institute for Health Research Southampton BRC, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  6. 6NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Wessex, Southampton Science Park, Southampton, UK
  7. 7Centre for Food Policy, City, University of London, London, UK


Background As part of the UK government obesity strategy, the Food (Promotion and Placement) (England) Regulations 2021 were implemented on 1 October 2022 restricting the prominent placement of products high in fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS) in most retail settings. There is a lack of insight from local authority officers (hereafter officers) regarding consistent implementation and enforcement of these HFSS regulations, as there are no comparable regulations. This study aimed to explore officers’ perspectives on supporting compliance, and the support needed to optimise enforcement.

Methods This qualitative study was conducted with a purposive sample of 22 officers across England and Wales. Semi-structured interviews were conducted via MS Teams. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis in NVIVO software. Three researchers collected, analysed, and coded data. A coding frame was developed and refined in discussion with co-authors.

Results Participants included trading standards (n=13), environmental health (n=6) and public health (n=3) officers. Six themes including sixteen subthemes were identified. Officers said the HFSS regulations are: i) complex, onerous, and hold relatively low health/safety risk; ii) do not fit well within current enforcement approaches; and iii) do not fit all business types. Local authorities are facing resource and workforce constraints and have to prioritise regulations addressing high health risks (i.e., allergens). For HFSS regulations, officers will likely use a light touch approach raising awareness and engaging with businesses to find solutions rather than issuing notices. To develop a consistent and coordinated approach to policy enforcement across local authorities, officers say they need: i) further leadership from central government in the form of funding, training, and support to determine in-scope businesses and products, ii) cross departmental collaboration to raise obesity as a priority at local and regional levels, and iii) greater consumer demand for healthier retail environments. This study reflects the pre-regulation position of officers, and it is possible that updated government guidance could have impacted their views and practices.

Conclusion A light touch approach to enforcing HFSS regulations is likely to be adopted due to limited capacity and the complex and onerous nature of this legislation. Implementation and enforcement of these regulations requires a collaborative approach from all stakeholders- central government, local authorities, local public health teams, manufacturers, retailers, as well as buy-in from consumers. The insights from this study outline the resource and support needs of officers for consistent enforcement and implementation of HFSS regulations as well as guide future policy refinements.

  • HFSS regulations
  • enforcement
  • food environment
  • diet

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