New rules on junk food ads to be brought in next year

A 9pm watershed will be introduced for adverts of foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

New rules on junk food ads to be brought in next year iStock

New restrictions on adverts promoting unhealthy foods are to come into force by the end of next year.

The UK Government has announced that a 9pm watershed will be introduced for adverts featuring foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).

The new rules will apply to TV and UK on-demand programmes, as well as there being restrictions on paid-for advertising of HFSS foods online.

Following implementation of the new regulations, the watershed will mean that such adverts can only be shown between 9pm and 5.30am.

In order to keep the restrictions proportional, the Government said that the new regulations will apply to food and drink products of most concern to childhood obesity and will ensure the healthiest in each category will be able to continue to advertise.

It means that foods such as honey, olive oil, avocados and marmite are excluded from the restrictions.

Restrictions will be applied to all businesses with 250 or more employees that make and/or sell HFSS products, meaning that small and medium businesses will be able to continue advertising

The Government said that the move represents “another important step forward” in its drive to reduce childhood obesity.

UK public health minister Jo Churchill said: “We are committed to improving the health of our children and tackling obesity.

“The content youngsters see can have an impact on the choices they make and habits they form. With children spending more time online it is vital we act to protect them from unhealthy advertising.

“These measures form another key part of our strategy to get the nation fitter and healthier by giving them the chance to make more informed decisions when it comes to food.

“We need to take urgent action to level up health inequalities.

“This action on advertising will help to wipe billions off the national calorie count and give our children a fair chance of a healthy lifestyle.”

Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart said: “We need to protect our children from developing unhealthy eating habits that can stay with them for the rest of their lives.

“These measures, along with the UK Government’s wider strategy to tackle childhood obesity, will bring significant improvements, hopefully encouraging young people to lead a healthier lifestyle for the long-term.”