New rules on advertising unhealthy foods online and before 9pm on TV across the UK will come into force, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
The new restrictions apply to TV and UK on-demand programmes, as well as restrictions on paid-for advertising of unhealthy 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 the 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.
‘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,’ said Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill.
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‘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 BMA has long campaigned for a 9pm watershed on advertising and promotion of junk food so we strongly welcome this announcement. We must reduce the exposure of children and young people to constant adverts for food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar,’ said Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair.
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‘However, we would like the plans to go even further to better protect the nation’s health. We’ve also called on the Government to implement a total online advertising ban of such products. Evidence shows that children spend between one to three hours connected to the internet2 every day, figures which have doubtless.’