Advertising restrictions announced for products high in fat, salt and sugar

29 June 2021

The Government’s response to a consultation on advertising restrictions for products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) commits to a 9pm TV watershed for HFSS products and a total restriction of paid-for HFSS advertising online at the end of 2022.

The Government said all on-demand programme services (ODPS) under the jurisdiction of the UK, and therefore regulated by Ofcom, will be included in the TV watershed for HFSS advertising.

Non-UK regulated ODPS will be included in the restriction of paid-for HFSS advertising online because they are outside UK jurisdiction.

The restrictions will be legislated for via the upcoming Health and Care Bill.

The aim of the consultation on TV advertising, which ran from 18 March to 10 June 2019, was to gather views on how the Government can reduce children’s exposure to HFSS advertising, to reduce children’s overconsumption of these products, and to encourage food brands to make their products healthier.

There was also a 2020 consultation on a total online restriction, which received significant interest with 2864 responses from individuals, businesses and organisations.

The response document said that the new rules for TV and online will be brought in simultaneously, to reflect children’s changing media habits and to mitigate the displacement of HFSS advertising from TV to online “as children are now spending more time online than on TV with this forecast to continue”.

The Government found a 450% increase in the food and drink online advertising spend between 2010 and 2017, leading it to try to “future proof” the policy to ensure an effective reduction of children’s exposure to HFSS advertising.

The Government has decided to appoint Ofcom as the statutory backstop regulator of these restrictions, and Ofcom will have the ability to appoint a frontline regulator.

The Government’s response and outcome are available at