Vouching on healthier meals

Vouchers worth £250m are to be served up to families in England in an attempt to encourage healthier meals.

The Government wants to promote better food choices and exercise and has joined forces with a range of companies including Asda, Birds Eye, Uniliver, Mars, Weight Watchers, Nestle and Warburtons.

The terms are thus: households are to be offered a £50 book of vouchers, recipes for healthy versions of popular snacks and advice on physical activities.

The Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘It's a financial incentive and it's not one paid for by the taxpayer.

‘It's one where we're coming together with our partners the media industry and retailers - they are the ones who are making this available, they are showing their commitment to health being everybody's concern.’

He added: ‘The healthy option isn't always the cheapest option so it's a really important step to be able to offer £50 off healthier foods, drinks and activities.’

But some are not convinced about large corporations taking leading roles in telling people what and how they should eat.

Tim Lang, a professor of food policy at City University, said he did not like that firms were to ‘control’ the scheme.

‘I'm nervous if big companies are put in charge of public health - that's not to say they can't be good for public health - but if they are centrally involved in delivering it,’ he said.

‘I think that history suggests we need to set frameworks, level playing fields in which they then operate.’

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