UK government to ban junk food advertising online and before 9pm on TV
The UK government is set to announce a ban on junk food advertising online and before 9pm on television from 2023 in another move to fight the country’s obesity crisis.
The new measures, which will prohibit adverts for products high in fat, salt and sugar from being shown before 9pm could cost broadcasters over £200m annually in revenue.
All forms of paid-for advertising from ads on social media platforms such as Facebook and text message promotions to paid-search results on search engines will be banned.
Currently, brands spend over £600m annually on food advertising online and on television, with £400m of that going towards online advertising.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is poised to deliver on his pledge to fight the growing obesity crisis after he changed his view on personal health decisions following his hospitalisation with Covid-19 in 2020.
The government carried out a consultation on the issue that year in order to implement a ban which revealed that minors under 16 were exposed to 15bn junk food ads online, a dramatic increased from 700m in the year before.
However, the new restrictions include exemptions, such as for brand-only advertising online and on TV, which will continue to be allowed.
That means a company often associated with poor dietary habits, such as McDonald’s, will be able to advertise as long as no HFSS products appear.
Brands will also be allowed to continue to promote 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 such as honey and jam, but will also cover zero-sugar drinks and McDonald’s nuggets, which are not nutritionally deemed an HFSS product.