As families struggle with the cost of living, the government has decided to postpone a ban on multi-buy deals for junk food and pre-watershed TV advertising.
The plans will be postponed for a year while officials assess the impact on household finances, according to the Department of Health.
It stated that restrictions on junk food placement in stores would continue in October.
However, health advocates have accused the Prime Minister of “playing politics” with children’s health.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that the planned ban on “buy one get one free” (Bogof) deals for foods and drinks high in fat, salt, or sugar (HFSS), as well as free soft drink refills, would be postponed for a year, until October 2023.
Plans to restrict TV advertising of junk foods before the 21:00 GMT watershed and paid-for online adverts are also being paused for a year and will not come into force until January 2024, the department added.
Public Health Minister Maggie Throup insisted that the government remained committed to tackling the issue of childhood obesity.
“Pausing restrictions on deals like ‘buy one get one free’ will allow us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation,” she added.
However, health advocates have criticised the plans’ delays and accused Boris Johnson’s government of failing to combat childhood obesity.
The delays, according to Prof Graham MacGregor, a cardiologist at Queen Mary University of London and the chairman of Action on Sugar, contradict the government’s “levelling up” agenda.
“Boris Johnson could have left a legacy as the first prime minister to address obesity in a meaningful way, particularly by limiting advertising and promotion of unhealthy food, which were his flagship policies,” he said.
“Instead, he has caved in to his own MPs and an aggressive food industry, which, ironically, was already complying with these new policies.”