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What do the proposed advertising restrictions for foods high in fats salt and sugar mean?

Tackling rising obesity rates and improving the health of the nation is currently high on the UK Government agenda.  In 2018 the Government set a national ambition to halve childhood obesity by 2030. As part of tackling this complex crisis for which there is no single solution, the Government has undertaken a consultation (ending on 22nd December) to further restrict advertising foods with High Fats, Salts and Sugars (HFSS) as they are concerned that despite current restrictions children still see a significant level of HFSS adverts which contribute to food preferences and choices which over time lead to obesity.  Current boundaries state that HFSS brands are unable to advertise in programmes on television that index highly for children (any programmes with more than 25% of under sixteens are prohibited).

However, the Government are proposing that we go further with this by either:

  • A total ban on HFSS advertising online
  • A 9pm Watershed for advertising online and TV

The High Fats Salts and Sugars Index is calculated by the Departments of Health’s Nutrient Profiling Model.  Foods that score 4 or more and drinks that score 1 or more are classed as HFSS.  It is currently unclear if this would require brand ads e.g. supermarkets to self- regulate.  The consultation has been opposed by advertising bodies and deemed unwarranted as well as being perceived as a vote of no confidence in the ad industry which would suffer extremely detrimental effects to advertising in a Covid climate that has already proved extremely challenging.   What’s more there is no concrete evidence that has been provided to demonstrate that an advertising ban would succeed in reducing obesity rates.

At Generation Media we are working closely with industry bodies such as the IAB and Advertising Association and attending meetings with Government officials as well as preparing for every eventuality for our clients.  Please get in touch if you would like a virtual coffee to discuss how this could affect media planning for your brand and how we can help.