Government to ‘push ahead with ban on unhealthy food adverts’

Small businesses will be exempt from the ban, which is part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to tackle obesity, according to reports.

Tubs of sweets
Tubs of sweets

The Government is pushing ahead with a ban on unhealthy food adverts online and on TV before the 9pm television watershed, according to reports.

Small businesses will be exempt from the ban, which is part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to tackle obesity, under plans due to be unveiled by the Government on Thursday, the Telegraph reports.

Restaurants, cafes and bakeries had raised concerns they would not be able to advertise their products on their own social media accounts if the Government went ahead with the plans, which were outlined in the Queen’s Speech.

However, it is understood that small businesses with 249 employees or fewer will be exempt from the ban and permitted to advertise foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS).

Restrictions for online adverts will stop short of a total ban, as it will only apply to paid-for advertising, according to the Telegraph.

The Advertising Association said it was “dismayed” by the move, which will mean food and drink companies will not be able to advertise “new product innovations and reformulations”.

The restrictions will be enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority, which will order companies breaking the rules to take down adverts and potentially sanction repeat offenders, the Telegraph adds.

Research by the NHS has found that one in three children leaves primary school overweight, or obese, and almost two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity.

Analysis by the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) earlier this year suggested ending the ads could benefit children by removing the equivalent of 150 million chocolate biscuits or 41 million cheeseburgers a year from their diets.

A briefing document published to accompany the Queen’s Speech last month set out the plans, which have previously been criticised as “headline-chasing policy” rather than helping to reduce obesity rates by campaigners.

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.”

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