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TV watershed for junk food adverts is ‘missing ingredient’ in obesity fight

28th Jul 2020 - 10:25
ben reynolds sustain obesity junk food tv advertising watershed
Ben Reynolds, deputy chief executive of Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, explains the importance of the inclusion of advertising restrictions in the Government’s obesity strategy announced on July 27th:

The inclusion of world leading restrictions on junk food advertising is a real game changer. Whilst it is not a silver bullet, it has been the missing ingredient in countless Government strategies over the years to tackle obesity.

We have been calling for a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising for over a decade. This will help make it easier for people to make healthier choices and remove one of the ways in which every day we’re nudged towards unhealthier options.

Similar policies have been implemented with little impact on industry income. In fact the restrictions on junk food advertising put in place by the Mayor of London led to an increase in advertising revenues as well as a shift to healthier adverts.

We may also see food companies reformulating their products as they did when the sugary drinks tax was put in place in order to avoid these restrictions.”

There has never been a more important time for the Government to take the bold, courageous action it has long promised.

Tackling obesity is not just about personal willpower. You just have to look at the environment that we live in – the torrent of unhealthy food that bombards us– dominating advertising, our high streets, through to in store promotions – it’s everywhere.

We need to stem this tide, we need to take junk food marketing out of the spot light and give healthier food a chance.

We welcome the Government’s commitments to introducing a 9pm watershed for junk food advertising, and restrictions on promotions of unhealthy products in store, as well as the commitments to review labeling, and this is something that the parents we hear from day in day out will also be celebrating.

We will continue to push for these to be implemented in a timely fashion and for marketing on packaging, high street food business incentives and fiscal measures for healthier food to be reviewed.

This is a good starter from which to build the menu of policy options, and we will continue to push for the next course to also include reviewing labeling, packaging, high street food business incentives and fiscal measures for healthier food, so that today's children grow up healthier, happier and more resilient in the face of any future disease or risk.

Sustain has campaigned for restrictions on junk food marketing since it was founded over 20 years ago, and has called for a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts for over 10 years.


Written by
David Foad