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Government proposes online advertising ban for unhealthy foods

13 Nov 2020
A new consultation has been launched to ban online adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) in the UK to get the nation healthy and tackle the ‘obesity crisis’.

Research shows children are exposed to over 15 billion adverts for products high in HFSS online every year. Evidence highlights that exposure to HFSS advertising can affect what children eat in the short term and also shape their food preferences in the long term.

The new consultation, which will run for six weeks, will gather views from the public and key industry figures to understand the impact and challenges of introducing a total ban on the advertising of these products online.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, said: “I am determined to help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices about what they eat.

“We know as children spend more time online, parents want to be reassured they are not being exposed to adverts promoting unhealthy foods, which can affect eating habits for life.

“This will be a world-leading measure to tackle the obesity challenges we face now but it will also address a problem that will only become more prominent in the future.”

A poll from 2019 discovered 72% of the public were in support of a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts during popular family TV shows.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity. A third children leave primary school overweight or obese, with obesity-related illnesses costing the NHS £6 billion a year.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill, added: “It’s vital we build on the world-leading obesity measures announced in July to ensure our efforts to tackle childhood obesity have the greatest impact.

“We have already committed to restricting HFSS adverts on television before 9pm. But we also need to go further and address how children can be influenced online, where they are spending more and more of their time. This is part of a package of measures to help families. We want to support people of all ages to make healthier choices.”