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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Junk food ad ban upsets food and drink industry

Junk food ad ban: A government plan to ban online junk food ads has been criticised by the food and drink industry.

Major corporations such as Mars, Kellogg’s and Britvic claimed the plans were disproportionate and lacked evidence.

The original plan was to impose a 9pm watershed on junk food ads but was changed to a complete ban in November.

Boris Johnson is said to have added this stipulation after his recent bout with Covid.

The prime minister believes being overweight increased his risk of contacting the virus.

If this plan is implemented the UK would be subject to the strictest digital marketing standards in the world.

Firms would not be able to advertise products containing high amounts of fat, salt or sugar in Facebook ads, paid search results on Google, text promotions or even post about such products on social media.

It would seem that the UK government really is determined to help UK citizens make healthier choices.

More than 800 food and drinks manufacturers along with 3000 brands signed a letter objecting to the plan.

“The UK government is quite correctly committed to evidence-based policy making. However, the evidence base underpinning these proposals is lacking in both detail and efficacy,” the letter says.

“Additionally, there is still no agreed definition of which foods the government is including in these proposals.

“They are so broad they even capture family favourites from chocolate to peanut butter to sausage rolls.”

Is a junk food ad ban necessary?

Junk food ad ban

“Family favourites” is exactly the kind of language the such a plan could change and is precisely the point:

Do we as a nation really want our children growing up with the conception that junk food is a desirable item?

It is exactly this kind of thinking that has propagated obesity in our country.

According to the NHS more than 67% of men and 60% of women are either overweight or obese in the UK.

There are 876 000 hospital admissions a year where obesity is a factor, an increase of 23% in 3 years.

Perhaps most shocking is that 20% of year 6 children are classified as obese, that is 1 in every five children!

It is estimated that children under 16 in 2019 were exposed to nearly 15 billion junk food ads online in 2019 compared to only 700 million in 2017.

That is an increase over 15 times the amount of adverts in just two years.

It is quite understandable then why the government is trying to finally take a stand.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I am determined to help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices about what they eat.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have committed to restricting HFSS adverts [for products high in fat, sugar and salt] on television before 9pm, but we also need to go further to address how children can be influenced online by adverts promoting unhealthy foods.

“We have launched a consultation to gather views from the public and industry stakeholders to understand the impact and challenges of introducing a total ban on the advertising of these products online.”

Local business

However, the letter did bring up the question of smaller businesses which would be impacted more negatively by such a plan.

“Is it really the government’s intention that a local wedding cake business, for example, would not be able to share product details on its Instagram account in order to grow its sales?” the letter said.

Ultimately, such businesses may have to adapt in order to survive, so in reference to the above example that might mean reducing the amount of fat, salt and sugar in cakes to meet government standards.

It isn’t like there is an unwritten rule saying a wedding need be unhealthy, here are some healthy wedding ideas.

A junk food ad ban might seem extreme, but these days so are our waistlines.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55035375

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