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Meal deal restrictions in Wales could be 'very dangerous' for people with eating disorders, charity warns

A leading charity has criticised proposals to restrict items that form part of meal deals - arguing the move could be "very dangerous" for people with eating disorders.

The Welsh government has been consulting the public on plans which could see food items that are high in fat, sugar or salt content excluded from meal deals, with other restrictions on offers such as buy one get one free.

But the UK eating disorder charity BEAT has said that the proposed move could make it harder for people with eating disorders to follow prescribed meal plans or consume "safe foods" which aid their recovery.

The Welsh government says that no final decision has been made after the consultation and that it is working with charities including BEAT.

Jo Whitfield, the charity's national officer for Wales, told Sky News: "This move will make getting the food they need even harder.

"The Welsh government has made this proposal obviously in order to reduce the general population's calorie intake, but for people with eating disorders, they risk becoming even more unwell if they try and reduce the amount of calories they're eating, so it could be very dangerous for people who have an eating disorder."

As part of the consultation, the government has also looked at introducing calorie labelling on menus in Wales which Ms Whitfield described as "dangerous for people either susceptible to or who have an eating disorder".

"We would just ask the question back to the Welsh government, when will the needs of people with eating disorders be considered?"

BEAT says that the government should listen to the specific needs of people with eating disorders when consulting on policies like this one.

"It's crucial that the government considers the health and well-being of the 58,000 people in Wales with eating disorders when creating their policies," added Ms Whitfield.

'Lack of evidence' to support restrictions

In a joint letter to the Welsh government, the Welsh Retail Consortium, the Association of Convenience Stores and Food and Drink Federation Cymru say that there is a "lack of evidence" to support restrictions on meal deals.

The Welsh Conservatives, the largest opposition party in the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) has said that the proposals would "hit the poorest in our communities hardest".

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A Welsh government spokesperson said: "We have been discussing the proposals with people with eating disorders and charities, including BEAT, as part of our ongoing discussion around healthy food environments.

"Through the consultation process, which began last year, we have been clear that we will fully consider the impact on people with eating disorders and we will put measures in place to support them."

The Welsh government adds that no final decision has been made following the consultation and that they are not planning to "ban" meal deals outright.