So, what constitutes unhealthy? According to the new consultation, unhealthy foods are those that are high in fat, sugar and salt (“HFSS”).
From research undertaken by the government, children are exposed to over 15 billion online advertisements for HFSS products every year which affect what children eat in the short term and shape food preferences in the long term.
The new consultation will run for 6 weeks, during which the government will gather the views from the public and industry stakeholders to understand the impact and challenges of introducing a total ban.
Obesity is one of the biggest health crises in England, with almost two thirds of adults being overweight or living with obesity and one in three children leaving primary school overweight or obese. In monetary terms, obesity-related illnesses are costing the NHS £6 billion a year.
This is obviously a serious issue which needs to be addressed. However, will a total ban on all advertising of HFSS foods resolve matters? Why is the ban restricted to HFSS foods and not HFSS drinks? What about alcohol advertisements?
We expect that the consultation will return a number of concerns on how these new measures will work and whether other goods should be included in the ban. In order for obesity levels to stop, especially amongst children, there clearly needs to be an increased public awareness of and adjustment to healthier lifestyles and eating habits. But we wonder if the application of these fairly draconian measures are fair to the hospitality and food and drink sector, which is already suffering as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the new measures are put in place, what will Christmas 2021 adverts look like?