The UK government has announced a plan to ban TV adverts for foods high in fat, salt, and sugar before 9pm in an effort to tackle Britain’s obesity problem and wean children off junk food.
The move, announced on Thursday by the Department for Health and Social Care along with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, will see new measures come into force at the end of 2022 to tackle junk food consumption in the UK.
The primary measure, which has been long-awaited, sees a ban on TV adverts for products high in fat, salt, and sugar before the 9pm watershed. The move, among other things, aims to contribute to the government’s plan of reducing childhood obesity by half by the year 2030.
The policy will also impact on-demand TV advertising before 9pm, as well as bringing in new rules on online promotion.
“The content youngsters see can have an impact on the choices they make and habits they form. With children spending more time online, it is vital we act to protect them from unhealthy advertising,” said Public Health Minister Jo Churchill, adding that the government was committed to tackling obesity.
Junk food manufacturers will still be able to advertise on their own websites, blogs, and social media channels. Small and medium-sized enterprises will also be exempt from the measures, allowing them to advertise junk food before the watershed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
has previously stated his intention to tackle obesity, including his own weight challenges, most notably during the pandemic. According to NHS Digital, more than 60% of the UK’s adult population is now overweight or obese, marking a steady increase from the 1990s.
In 2020, more than one million people in the UK were hospitalised due to obesity-related illnesses. Britain’s overweight population are also considered more susceptible to severe Covid
Childhood obesity is also a major issue, with 35% of children aged 10-11 years overweight or obese.