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Action on Sugar

Introducing a total online advertising restriction for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS)


A new consultation has been launched to the public and industry stakeholders on proposals to ban online adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt. The restriction would help to protect children from developing long-term unhealthy eating habits and the consultation has been announced as a measure as part of the government's Tackling obesity strategy released in July.

Children are spending more time online and their media habits have changed. 5 to 15 year olds are now spending 20 minutes more online each day than watching TV and there has been a 450% increase in spend on online food and drink advertising from 2010-2017.

Research shows that adverts showing food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt can affect what children eat and when they eat. After being exposed to the advert, children are immediately increasing the amount of food they eat and also shaping their longer-term preferences from a young are.

The consultation will run for 6 weeks and will help gather views to understand the impact and challenges of introducing a restriction on the advertising of these products online so people can live healthier lives and tackle childhood obesity.

Click here to read the consultation on Introducing a total online restriction for products high in fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS)

Click here for Media Coverage 

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt says:

“We very much welcome this consultation on whether only healthy food and drink should be advertised online as it gives the opportunity for ministers to hear from the many parents who are frustrated with their children being bombarded with advertising for unhealthy foods. 

As the message from the Government has been to 'stay home' for much of the year in the fight against COVID-19, this will have no doubt vastly increased children’s exposure to such irresponsible marketing which casts unhealthy products in the spotlight. 

It’s therefore vital that a total ban across all online platforms is introduced which would ensure that all loopholes, including paid-for promotions whereby brands are using marketing techniques to push junk food ads, would be firmly closed and help turn the tide on obesity."



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