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Action on Salt

New advertising rules to help tackle childhood obesity


Today, the Department of Health and Social Care has published the regulations which will come into action at the end of next year to introduce the 9pm watershed for advertisements of foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). The new rules apply to TV and UK on-demand programmes, as well as restrictions on paid-for advertising of HFSS foods online as part of the government’s ongoing commitment to tackle unhealthy eating habits at source.

  • These restrictions will help protect children from developing long-term unhealthy eating habits and improve nation’s health, and forms just one part of wider plans to tackle childhood obesity.
  • Latest measures to tackle childhood obesity could wipe over 7 billion calories from the national diet every year.

The watershed will apply from 9pm to 5.30am, meaning HFSS adverts can only be shown during these times. A total of 79% of public consultation respondents supported a 9pm watershed on TV while 74% agreed with the introduction of further HFSS advertising restrictions online.

Read more here about the consultation outcome: Further advertising restrictions for products high in fat, salt and sugar

View the Media Coverage here

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, Queen Mary University of London says:

"Parents want their children to see only healthier foods advertised which is why we welcome this positive response from the Government’s advertising consultation.

Whilst this is not a total ban on unhealthy food and drink advertising, the fact that meals high in salt, fat and sugar which are served by large fast food chains will be included in the restrictions is hugely significant. This is especially pertinent given many big food chains have been profiting enormously from advertising during the pandemic.

With figures published last year suggesting that nearly two-thirds of adults in England are either overweight or living with obesity (and obesity linked to the worst outcomes of Covid-19), the food & drink industry, including the hospitality sector, should not wait until 2023 to adhere to these restrictions –and immediately get behind these new measures and support the nation’s health. It also goes without saying that we must not only prevent obesity, but also treat those who are overweight and this must include product reformulation so that products become healthier."

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."



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