New advertising rules on ‘unhealthy foods’ to help tackle childhood obesity
Following a public consultation, regulations will come into force at the end of next year to introduce a 9pm watershed for advertisements of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).
he new rules apply to TV and UK on-demand programmes, as well as restrictions on paid-for advertising of HFSS foods online as part of the government’s ongoing commitment to tackle unhealthy eating habits at source.
The watershed will apply from 9pm to 5.30am, meaning HFSS adverts can only be shown during these times. A total of 79% of public consultation respondents supported a 9pm watershed on TV while 74% agreed with the introduction of further HFSS advertising restrictions online.
Churchill said: “Childhood obesity is a complex problem, caused by different factors, and the government is committed to a wide set of actions. Today’s vital change represents another important step forward in the government’s drive to reduce childhood obesity and level up health inequalities across the nation.
“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.
“In order to keep the restrictions proportional, these new regulations will apply to food and drink products of most concern to childhood obesity and will ensure the healthiest in each category will be able to continue to advertise. This approach means foods such as honey, olive oil, avocados and marmite are excluded from the restrictions.
“The restrictions will apply to all businesses with 250 or more employees that make and/or sell HFSS products, meaning small and medium businesses will be able to continue advertising. The government recognises these companies may be some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and rely on online media as the sole way to communicate with their customers.
“Online restrictions will be limited to paid-for advertising, ensuring brands can continue to advertise within ‘owned media’ spaces online; such as a brand’s own blog, website, app or social media page.”
She added: “The TV and online restrictions could remove up to 7.2bn calories from children’s diets per year in the UK which, over the coming years, could reduce the number of obese children by more than 20,000.
“One in three children leave primary school overweight or obese, with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.”