A ban on advertising junk food online and on TV before the 9pm watershed is to be delayed by over two years — just weeks before it was set to take effect.
In an effort to reduce the nation’s bulging waistlines, new rules will be in force next month that restrict the promotion of products high-in fat, salt, and sugar.
To give firms more time for product reformulations and adjustments to marketing strategies, the government has agreed that the curbs will be extended to October 2025.
Fears that a ban on junk food purchases could cause an increase in the cost of goods has caused a delay of over a year.
A ban on advertising junk foods online and on TV prior to 9pm is being postponed to 2025. [File image]
Last night, health charities criticized the delays as ‘disgraceful’ and warned that it will lead to more overweight children and serious risks of developing ill health.
Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and type-2 diabetes – and obesity costs the NHS £6.1billion a year.
More than six out of ten adults in the UK have obesity or overweight. More than one in four children start primary school too fat. This number rises to four in ten when they leave school.
The proposed advertising restrictions are some of the most severe in the world. They would prohibit firms from promoting certain products on TV before 9pm or online at any other time.
Consultation by the government on the proposals found that children under 16 were exposed online to 15 billion junk food ads in 2019, as opposed to 700 million two years ago.
It is expected to impact on the more than £600million spent by brands on all food advertising online and on TV each year.
On October 1, law was passed restricting the placement junk food in supermarkets. Large restaurants and cafes were also required to increase calories from April.
This week will see the adoption of a statutory instrument that will delay the ban on junk-food advertising.
To combat the nation’s bulging waistlines, restrictions on advertising for products high in fats, salt, and sugar were to be implemented next month. [File image]
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
According to the NHS, meals should be based on potatoes and other starchy carbs, ideally wholegrain.
• Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried, canned, and frozen vegetables count
• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain
• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide
Katharine Jenner is the director of Obesity Healthcare Alliance, which represents top health charities and royal medical schools. She said that “delaying junk food advertising restrictions was a shocking move by The Obesity Health Alliance.” GovernmentIt was done without any justification.
Children in the reception class are now facing a dire health situation. Their efforts to improve their future health have been utterly destroyed.
Research shows that children with excess weight would be significantly reduced if they were not exposed to junk food ads on TV or online.
“This is the behavior of a government which seems to care more about its short-term political survival than the long-term well-being and health of its children.
“We urge Rishi sunak to reverse this attack upon child health, to shorten delay to 2024 and give children a better shot at growing up healthy.”
Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman for campaign groups Action on Sugar & Action on Salt, described the delay in his report as ‘hugely disappointed’ and stated that it goes against the overwhelming evidence & public support’.
He He added that the only people who will profit from this baseless delay, are multinational food companies. They are used to making huge profits on unhealthy products and don’t have any vested interests in the nation’s health.
“This whole saga was a huge waste tax payer’s money, and will now place more children at risk. In fact, this policy could reduce obesity by 20,000 in just a few years.
“This has been orchestrated and committed to by a government that clearly has no intention of securing its promises to protect the nation’s from the devastating effects unhealthy diets high-in saturated fat, sugar, and salt.
Chris Askew, chief executive at Diabetes UK, called the delay ‘disgraceful and warned that they ‘directly undermine the government’s commitment to halving childhood obese by 2030.
He He added: “The environment around us heavily impacts our food choices. In delaying the ban on junk food marketing, the Government This allows companies to continue to bombard children’s minds with ads for high-fat, high-sugar foods, making it hard to choose healthy options.
A spokesperson for Advertising Association stated: “If these reports are true it would certainly help to have an implementation date, for planning purposes with a proper timeline to allow for regulatory processes and guidance.
“But, we still believe that this policy is wrong and will not address obesity.
“To address the obesity challenges in this country, well-funded multi-faceted programs must be developed that focus on local communities and not population-wide or non-targeted approaches such as advertising bans.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care stated that: “The government takes obesity seriously. A healthy population is crucial for a healthy economy. The Department of Health and Social Care will continue to work closely to assist people in making healthier choices. We are committed to helping people live longer, healthier lives.
‘Last month, for example, we announced £20million to trial new obesity treatments and technologies to help save the NHS billions.
“We will continue to introduce restrictions banning advertisements on TV for foods or drinks high in fats, salt, and sugars before 9pm.