Health secretary Jeremy Hunt wants stricter junk food ad rules
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is seeking to impose much tighter restrictions on junk food advertising as childhood obesity levels continue to rise.
Hunt's call is thought to chime with proposals already announced for an end to ads on TV for high salt, sugary and fatty snacks until after the 9pm watershed.
The health secretary has put pressure on Downing Street to introduce the measures as part of a childhood obesity strategy, which will be unveiled within weeks, according to a report by the Financial Times.
Advertising restrictions around junk food have been in place since 2006, restricting TV programmes that are disproportionately watched by children from having ads for fatty or sugary foods.
The proposed 9pm watershed has already caused ripples in the advertising and broadcast industries with the Advertising Association last year casting doubt on the health select committee's report, the body that produced the proposal.
“The Committee didn’t take evidence from advertising experts and its views reflect a narrow, medical perspective, said Ian Barber, director of communications at the Advertising Association, which took particular issue with the pre-watershed TV ban.
“The bigger picture is that food advertising in the UK is amongst the most strictly regulated in the world, children see far fewer HFSS ads on TV today than ever before and new rules already being considered would mean no advertising targeted at children in any media."
The government has attempted to stem the uptake of unhealthy lifestyles through its voluntary Responsibility Deal agreements with the industry as well as its Change4Life marketing initiative, with the latter this week launching a new £5m campaign focused on reducing sugar intake.