Ban on junk food ads before 9pm
Written by Gavin on 24th June 2021
A ban on junk food adverts before the 9pm watershed will come into force at the end of next year, with increased online restrictions also introduced.
The move is part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to tackle obesity, with NHS research showing that almost two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese.
But the announcement stops short of a total ban that had been proposed.
Small businesses with less than 250 employees will be exempt from the ban and allowed to promote foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
Restaurants, cafes and bakeries had expressed fears that the plans could have seen them unable to advertise products on their own social media accounts.
Online, the ban will only apply to paid-for advertising.
This means brands will be able to advertise within what is known as “owned media” spaces, such as their own blog, website, app or social media page.
“We are committed to improving the health of our children and tackling obesity,” public health minister Jo Churchill said.
“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.”
The plans were floated by the government in last month’s Queen Speech, which set out the prime minister’s legislative agenda.
There was criticism at the time that the move was a “headline-chasing policy” that would have little real impact.
Speaking ahead of the announcement, Sue Eustace, public affairs director at the Advertising Association, said: “We all want to see a healthier, more active population, but the government’s own analysis shows these measures won’t work.
“Levelling up society will not be achieved by punishing some of the UK’s most successful industries for minimal effect on obesity levels.”