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June 24, 2021updated 25 Jun 2021 4:04pm

Junk food advertising ban will improve children’s health, says UK government

Boris Johnson's government believes banning the advertising of unhealthy food when children are likely to be watching could be effective in the fight against childhood obesity.

The UK government says that new rules banning the advertising of so-called junk food online and on TV before the 9pm watershed from 2023 will help tackle childhood obesity.

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New measures announced today (24 June) will ban products such as cakes, chocolate, ice cream breakfast cereals and pizza from being advertised during daylight hours when they are most likely to be seen by children.

But some foods high in fat or sugar will be spared from the ban, based on previously-announced restrictions and introduced following a consultation exercise. These include olive oil, honey, avocados, and Unilever’s Marmite spread.

Fast-food companies will be able to advertise as long as no high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products appear. Small- and medium-sized companies – those with less than 250 employees – will continue to be allowed to advertise ‘junk food’ products. There will also here be no new restrictions for the out-of-home sector, which includes billboards, poster sites, on buses, and in locations such as railway stations and airports.

Online restrictions will be limited to paid-for advertising, meaning brands can continue to advertise within ‘owned media’ spaces online, including on their own websites, apps or social media pages.

The UK government suggested these restrictions will help protect children from developing long-term unhealthy eating habits and improve the nation’s health by wiping more than seven billion calories from the national diet every year.

The move has been criticised by UK food industry body The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) which said it is “disappointed” by the move.

Its chief scientific officer, Kate Halliwell, said: “We are disappointed that the government continues to press ahead with headline-chasing policies which will undermine existing government policies, principally the reformulation programmes to reduce calories, sugars and salt and portion sizes.”

However, health campaign groups Action on Sugar and Action on Salt welcomed the move.

Their chairperson Professor Graham MacGregor said: “Parents want their children to see only healthier foods advertised which is why we welcome this positive response from the government’s advertising consultation.

“Whilst this is not a total ban on unhealthy food and drink advertising, the fact that meals high in salt, fat and sugar which are served by large fast food chains will be included in the restrictions is hugely significant.”

MacGregor called on the food and drink industry not to wait until 2023 to adhere to these restrictions and “immediately get behind these new measures and support the nation’s health”.

The Government said 79% of public consultation respondents supported a 9pm watershed on TV while 74% agreed with the introduction of further HFSS advertising restrictions online.

Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “We are committed to improving the health of our children and tackling obesity. The content youngsters see can have an impact on the choices they make and habits they form. With children spending more time online it is vital we act to protect them from unhealthy advertising.

“These measures form another key part of our strategy to get the nation fitter and healthier by giving them the chance to make more informed decisions when it comes to food. We need to take urgent action to level up health inequalities. This action on advertising will help to wipe billions off the national calorie count and give our children a fair chance of a healthy lifestyle.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is an advocate of clamping down on the advertising of unhealthy food, partly blaming his being overweight for the severity of his illness when he contracted Covid-19 last year.

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Free Whitepaper
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What is the impact of historically high inflation on the UK consumer landscape?

The average UK consumer is experiencing a severe cost-of living crisis as inflation surges to a forty-year high and the price of goods continues to rise. This shock is the result of the sharply increasing costs of commodities, energy, and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and is threatening FMCG manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators’ ability to survive and grow. Inflation will have a profound effect on many consumer-facing industries in 2022 and beyond. Consult GlobalData’s new whitepaper, Inflation in the UK: The Impact of Historically High Inflation on the UK Consumer Landscape, to better understand shifts in consumer behavior and their impact on spending patterns, as well as the implications for UK businesses. This whitepaper covers:  
  • Why has global inflation returned with a vengeance?
  • What is the current inflation situation in the UK?
  • What impact is inflation having on UK retail sales?
  • What tactics are businesses relying on to tackle the effects of high inflation?
  • How are consumers changing their behaviors to cope with the higher cost of living?
  • Which industry sectors are most vulnerable to reduced consumer demand?
  • How is the government responding to high inflation?
  • How long will high inflation last in the UK?
  • How can your company survive and thrive in a high inflation environment?
Enter your details here to receive your free whitepaper and ready your business for these increasingly uncertain times.
by GD50 Custom
Enter your details here to receive your free Whitepaper.

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