The government is set to announce a ban on junk food advertising online and before 9 p.m. on television starting in 2023, as Boris Johnson seeks to deliver on his promise to tackle the growing obesity crisis UK.
The new measures, which will be among the toughest marketing restrictions in the world, will have a huge impact on the more than £ 600million spent by brands on all food advertising online and on TV each year.
Watershed’s ban before 9 p.m. on advertising TV products considered high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) could cost TV broadcasters such as ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky more than $ 200 million pounds sterling per year.
The online advertising ban would affect all paid forms of digital marketing, from ads on Facebook to paid search results on Google, to SMS promotions and paid activities on sites such as Instagram and Twitter. It is estimated that over £ 400million is spent annually on online food advertising in the UK.
The strict rules, which are expected to be announced as early as Thursday, follow Johnson’s shift in perspective on personal health decisions after he was hospitalized with coronavirus last year. The Prime Minister is said to blame his own health problems for having contributed to his illness. Overweight people are at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid.
Research has shown that one in three children leaving primary school is overweight or obese, as is almost two-thirds of adults in England. Last year, the government consultation on proposals to implement a ban estimated that children under 16 were exposed to 15 billion online junk food ads in 2019, up from two 700 million. years earlier.
However, the new restrictions include a significant number of “exclusions” and exemptions, meaning they will fall short of the total ban proposed last year, which the advertising and broadcasting industry called it too “blind and draconian”.
For example, branded advertising only online and on television will continue to be allowed. This means that a business often associated with poor eating habits, like McDonald’s, will be able to advertise as long as no HFSS products appear. Brands will also be allowed to continue promoting their products on their own websites and social media accounts.
The government is also to exempt a range of products from inclusion in the ban after the definition of junk food products proposed last year would have meant that advertising of items including avocados, pot and cream would have been blocked.
These will include products not considered traditional ‘junk food’, such as honey and jam, but will also cover McDonald’s sugar-free drinks and nuggets, which are not considered an HFSS product nutritionally. .
Small and medium-sized businesses – those with fewer than 250 employees – will continue to be allowed to advertise junk food products.
In addition, the business-to-business market – businesses that do not target consumers but are part of the food industry supply chain – will still be allowed to advertise HFSS items.
Advertising for junk food will still be allowed on audio media, such as podcasts and radio, and there will be no new restrictions for the out-of-home advertising sector, which includes billboards, websites display, buses and train stations. and airports.
The list of products, and the ban itself, will be reviewed every few years.