Jeremy Wright, Culture Secretary, said: “We know that childhood obesity is one of the biggest health problems that our country faces. With children spending more time online it’s vital that we look at all options to help us take action and improve the health of the nation – whether through increasing participation in sport, promoting healthy living through our media or through advertising.
“The UK already has some of the toughest advertising restrictions in the world, but it is only right that we consult on further action on TV and online advertising for products that are high in fat, salt or sugar as part of our approach to tackling childhood obesity,” he said.
Officials said the restrictions would exclude everyday staples, such as olive oil, butter and meat.
Steve Brine, public health minister said: “It is not right that our children are so widely and easily exposed to adverts promoting foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Small amounts of excess calories every day over a long time causes obesity and all the associated health concerns.”
Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of 40 charities and pressure groups, said: “The evidence is clear – junk food adverts are impacting children’s health and the current regulations are outdated and riddled with loopholes. A 9pm watershed on unhealthy food adverts both on TV and online is desperately needed and supported not only by health experts but also over 70 per cent of the public. It’s the right thing to do for children’s future health.”
Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer for the Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, accused ministers of “failing to notice that the UK is still not out of the Brexit logjam, nor that food and drink companies are battling to ensure the nation is fed.” “Until a delay to the 29 March withdrawal date is agreed by the UK and EU, and Parliament removes that date from the Withdrawal Act, manufacturers will have a total focus on averting the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit, avoiding food shortages and keeping prices rises to a minimum,” he said.