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UK Government’s plans to ban junk food TV advertising before 9 p.m. are criticized | Food and beverage industry

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The government’s plans to restrict junk food advertising on TV and the internet have been criticized by activists who say they contain too many exemptions to sway the rising levels of obesity in the UK.

The new rules, announced on Thursday and coming into effect late next year, will ban advertising high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) products outside the watershed at 9 p.m. It also bans paid ads on sites like Facebook and Google from big brands.

However, the government has allowed numerous exemptions and outsourcing. Businesses will be able to show marketing on their own websites and social media accounts. The restrictions do not apply to marketing by smaller companies with fewer than 250 employees.

Some foods that are HFSS and are not considered traditional “junk food” – such as honey, marmite, and avocados – are still allowed to appear in advertisements. This also applies to sugar-free beverages and products such as McDonald’s nuggets, which are nutritionally not considered HFSS products.

It is controversial that only branded advertising is still allowed on the internet and on television, allowing companies associated with junk food products to self-market as long as the offending products don’t appear.

Health activists welcomed the further tightening of advertising rules, but expressed concerns that big brands associated with poor diet can continue to have a large presence in front of consumers.

“The proposals represent a significant step forward in reducing exposure to a constant stream of unhealthy food and drink advertisements on television and the Internet,” said Barbara Crowther, coordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign. “We remain concerned that the proposals will still allow massive multinational junk food companies and delivery platforms to run large branding campaigns.”

The small business exception means that Facebook and Google, where small businesses that can’t afford TV ads tend to invest their marketing spend, will continue to display significant amounts of junk food ads.

Dr. Petra Hanson, a clinical researcher at Warwick Medical School, said the government must put a total ban on online and television advertising of junk food to address the obesity problem in the UK.

“I am still very concerned about children’s exposure to advertisements for unhealthy foods,” she said. “Children continue to be exposed to unhealthy commercials. Young adults will continue to be exposed to unhealthy food advertisements after 9 p.m., and we know that eating habits developed at a young age often persist into adulthood. “

The government says the UK’s TV and online restrictions could remove up to 7.2 billion calories from children’s diets, reducing the number of obese children by 20,000. Currently every third child leaves elementary school overweight or obese.

“We are committed to improving the health of our children and fighting obesity,” said Health Minister Jo Churchill.

“The content teenagers see can affect their choices and habits. As children spend more time online, it is important that we protect them from unhealthy advertising. “

However, the advertising industry said the government’s own impact assessment showed that a ban on television advertising before 9 p.m. would only remove about 1.7 calories per day from a child’s diet, which is half a smartie.

“Advertisers agree that the UK has a problem with obesity and that action needs to be taken,” said Phil Smith, director general of ISBA, the body that represents UK advertisers. “[But] There is no evidence that the ministers’ proposals will have any significant impact on children’s health. It seems that the government has made headlines about sensible reforms. “

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The News Media Association, which represents all of the major national and local newspaper publishers, said the “draconian” measures would “harm news media publishers who rely on advertising revenue to fund journalism that keeps us all informed”.

It is estimated that the UK spends more than £ 400 million annually on online grocery advertising. A ban on TV advertising before the turnaround could cost broadcasters such as ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky more than £ 200 million in sales per year.

The strict new rules follow Boris Johnson’s hospitalization due to the coronavirus last April. The prime minister should blame his own weight problems for contributing to his illness; Obesity has been identified as an important factor in determining which people are seriously affected by the coronavirus.

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