The Minister of Health rejected calls by the “nanny state” to put high-sugar cereals in simpler packages.
Will Quince said more emphasis should be placed on educating parents and viewing products as a “treatment” on the packaging itself.
This comes as health group Action on Sugar has called for all child-friendly packaging on breakfast cereals and yoghurts classified as high or medium for sugar, salt or saturated fat to be removed.
This includes packages with cartoon characters, animation, vibrant colors, and familiar characters that are intentionally designed to capture a child’s attention.
Research by the group found that 47% of cereals and 65% of yoghurts contain a third of the maximum sugar recommended for ages 4 to 6 years per 100g.
Speaking to the Radio Times on Tuesday, Mr Quince said: “I do not support such kinds of state nanny interventions because as a parent it is my responsibility to educate my child on what is and is not appropriate for daily consumption and as a treat.
“I love Krave cereal as much as the next person…it’s so cute, but can I take it every day? No, because I know the implications. I want to educate my kids about that.”
“What that means is that we need to empower people to make healthier life choices.”
Mr Quince said the simple packaging of the products was “definitely a step too far” because they were fun when eaten in moderation, and should be taken “now and then as a treat”.
He confirmed when asked that he had lost six stones in just over a year during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Breakfast cereals and yoghurt saw a significant drop in sugar levels between 2015 and 2020, by 14.9% and 13.5%, respectively.
But the sugar reduction program announced in the government’s obesity plan in 2016 set a target of 20% in that time frame.
Dr Kawthar Hashem, campaign leader at Action on Sugar, said: “It is absurd that breakfast cereals and yoghurts celebrate the largest reductions in sugars during a sugar reduction programme, yet the same products with attractive packaging for children still contain excessive amounts of sugars. Not suitable for regular consumption by children.
“With increasing numbers of people under the age of 18 suffering from weight-related health issues and tooth decay being the leading cause of hospitalizations for children, now is the time to force companies to remove child-attractive packaging from products that mislead parents and make unhealthy children and sick.”