Last reviewed 11 November 2020

The Government has launched a new consultation setting out proposals for a total ban on online adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) in the UK to tackle the obesity crisis.

The six-week consultation, launched on 10 November 2020, forms part of the Government’s obesity strategy and quotes research which shows children are exposed to over 15 billion adverts for HFSS products online every year.

Evidence shows that exposure to such advertising can affect what children eat and when they eat, both in the short term by increasing the amount of food children eat immediately after being exposed to an advert, and by shaping longer-term food preferences from a young age.

The new consultation will gather views from the public and industry stakeholders to understand the impact and challenges of introducing a total ban on the advertising of these products online, to help people live healthier lives and tackle childhood obesity.

The Government says that further advertising restrictions are “widely supported by the public”, with polling from 2019 showing that 72% of people support a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts during popular family TV shows and that 70% support a 9pm watershed online.

Obesity has been identified as one of the biggest health crises the country faces.

  • Almost two-thirds (63%) of adults in England are overweight or living with obesity ― and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese.

  • Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS £6 billion a year.

  • The urgency of tackling obesity has been brought to the fore by evidence of the link to an increased risk from Covid-19.

  • Living with excess weight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19, with risk growing substantially as body mass index (BMI) increases.

The consultation is available at GOV.UK and closes on 22 December 2020.