Online junk food advertising banned to tackle obesity

A new consultation has been launched on proposals to ban online adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt in the UK.

Research shows children are exposed to over 15 billion adverts for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) online every year. Such exposure can affect what children eat and when they eat, both in the short term by increasing the amount of food children eat immediately after being exposed to an advert, and by shaping longer-term food preferences from a young age.

The six week-long consultation will gather views from the public and industry stakeholders to understand the impact and challenges of introducing a total ban on the advertising of these products online, to help people live healthier lives and tackle childhood obesity.

Advertising restrictions seem to be widely supported by the public, with polling from 2019 showing that 72 per cent of the public support a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts during popular family TV shows and that 70 per cent support a 9pm watershed online.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “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.”