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UK government's new placement legislation is a 'good first step': a rapid qualitative analysis of consumer, business, enforcement and health stakeholder perspectives

Muir, S., Dhuria, P., Roe, E. , Lawrence, W., Baird, J. & Vogel, C. A. ORCID: 0000-0002-3897-3786 (2023). UK government's new placement legislation is a 'good first step': a rapid qualitative analysis of consumer, business, enforcement and health stakeholder perspectives. BMC Medicine, 21(1), article number 33. doi: 10.1186/s12916-023-02726-9


The current food system in England promotes a population diet that is high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). To address this, the UK government has implemented legislation to restrict the promotion of HFSS products in prominent locations (e.g. store entrances, checkouts) in qualifying retailers since October 2022. This study investigated the perceived impact of the legislation for affected stakeholders.

A pre-implementation rapid qualitative evaluation of stakeholder interviews. One hundred eight UK stakeholders participated in the study including 34 consumers, 24 manufacturers and retailers, 22 local authority enforcement officers and 28 academic and charitable health representatives. A participatory conference was used to enable policy recommendations to be confirmed by stakeholders.

Stakeholders perceived the legislation to be a ‘good first step’ towards improving population diet but recognised this needed to be considered amongst a range of long-term obesity policies. Areas of further support were identified and these are presented as six recommendations for government to support the successful implementation of the legislation: (1) provide a free central HFSS calculator, (2) refine legislation to enhance intent and clarity, (3) conduct a robust evaluation to assess intended and unintended outcomes, (4) provide greater support for smaller businesses, (5) provide ring-fenced resources to local authorities and (6) create and communicate a long-term roadmap for food and health.

This legislation has the potential to reduce impulse HFSS purchases and makes a solid start towards creating healthier retail outlets for consumers. Immediate government actions to create a freely accessible HFSS calculator, support smaller businesses and provide additional resources to local authorities would support successful implementation and enforcement. Independent evaluation of the implementation of the legislation will enable monitoring of potential unintended consequences identified in this study and support refinement of the legislation. A long-term roadmap is necessary to outline strategies to support equal access to healthier and sustainable food across the whole food system within the next 20–30 years.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Food policy, Placement legislation, Qualitative research, Stakeholder views, Retail food environment, HFSS foods
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
T Technology > TX Home economics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management > Food Policy
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.

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