News / Children's Food Campaign

Government releases its plans to curb junk food advertising - Sustain responds

The Department of Health and Social Care has published their response to their consultation on advertising restrictions on products high in fat, salt or sugar as part of its drive towards a healthier food environment. The restrictions include a 9pm watershed on TV, restrictions on paid-for adverts online and are due to be introduced at the end of 2022.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

The consultation response clarifies the Government's plans, and outlines a number of exemptions to their main proposal, including exemptions for Small and Medium Enterprises, brand-only advertising, and business to business advertising.

Barbara Crowther, Sustain’s Children's Food Campaign Co-ordinator says:

"The proposals represent a significant step forward in reducing exposure to a constant stream of unhealthy food and drink advertising on TV and online. The Government has been subjected to intense industry lobbying to keep advertising junk food everywhere, and we're delighted that they have resisted this pressure and are standing up for children's health and a healthier food environment for all. The food and drink and advertising industries constantly proclaim their own creativity and innovation - this is a great opportunity for them to now turn those talents to the promotion of healthier food and drink products and lifestyles.

“However, we remain concerned that the proposals will still allow massive multinational junk food companies and delivery platforms to run big brand campaigns. In short, it's a very positive step in the right direction, but the journey towards a comprehensive healthier food advertising world is far from over." 

Ben Reynolds, Deputy CEO of Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming says:

"We welcome the proposed restrictions to advertising those products that contribute the most sugar, salt and saturated fat to people's diets, something that Sustain has been calling for for over 20 years now. It's clear that the Government has also listened to public feedback on the advertising restrictions in its response, which provide important exemptions for small and medium enterprises, whilst big brands will have to comply with the new rules. We will scrutinise the details once published, and look forward to the swift introduction of the new regulations when the Health and Care Bill is published."

Read the full Government response on advertising restrictions for products high in fat, salt and sugar.

Sustain and Children's Food Campaign were amongst 97 organisations and high profile campaigners who wrote to Boris Johnson in April 2021 calling on him to introduce the advertising restrictions in light of growing levels of obesity and overweight in the UK. See our letter here.

Children's Food Campaign's research with parents has consistently revealed the influence they believe TV and online advertising has on their children's preferences. 9 in 10 parents supported the idea of a 9pm TV watershed on junk food marketing, in research conducted in 2018.

Recently published research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine revealed the intense industry lobbying the Greater London Authority and Transport for London experienced when introducing the new TfL Healthier Food Advertising Policy in 2019.  Sustain is now working with several local authorities exploring local healthier advertising policies that would apply to their own public spaces.


Coverage on this issue:

Published 24 Jun 2021

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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