UK Government Consultation on Food Advertising Restrictions

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

The UK Advertising Association has given an official response on publication of the Government consultation on food advertising restrictions.

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association was quoted as saying “We urge Government to ensure that this review considers all available evidence in this consultation. A continuing focus on further advertising restrictions is founded on the misplaced belief that ‘children are bombarded by junk food advertising’. On the contrary, further advertising restrictions on HFSS food and drink will include common everyday items that the general public would not consider ‘junk food’. The rise in obesity in society has also occurred during a decade of declining exposure to HFSS advertising and declining food consumption. Indeed, our report – The challenge of childhood obesity – shows HFSS advertising exposure to children is at record lows with the average child now exposed to 11.5 seconds of HFSS ads on TV and online a day.

UK advertising rules are among the strictest in the world and already restrict the advertising of HFSS food or drink products in and around TV programmes commissioned for, or likely to appeal to children. The rules for all other media, including online, restrict HFSS ads where under 16s make up more than 25% of the audience.

International experience and independent research prove advertising bans have little impact on the wider societal issues that drive obesity. Rather, the way to address the problem is through local, targeted interventions that address key lifestyle factors including exercise and economic issues such as children growing up in poverty. Advertising can play a critical role in supporting this, as already seen through initiatives such as ITV’s support for The Daily Mile which is having a positive and measurable impact on people’s lives. Any actions being considered must be proportionate and without a long-term, damaging effect on the UK media landscape.”

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