Queen's Speech: Measures to tackle obesity and food advertising bansMay 11, 20212 min read
Two University of Warwick experts comment on measures to tackle obesity and food advertising that have been announced in the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of the UK Parliament today.
Dr Paul Coleman (pictured), from Warwick Medical School and the Warwick Obesity Network, said:
We welcome the government's intention to tackle rising rates of obesity by restricting the advertising of products high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) shown on TV before 9pm and a total online advertising ban
However, the government must focus on all forms on online advertising, not simply traditional commercials. This ban must cover online ‘advergames’, which encourage children to win points by placing branded food item in the mouth of children’s characters. These games are notoriously difficult for the government to regulate.
While we also welcome the decision to incentivise individuals to both eat better and exercise more, the government must recognise that increased wages, rather than one-off payments, are needed to ensure all families can access healthy food
For many families the main barrier in purchasing healthy food is cost, with families regularly limiting the amount of money spent on food to cover the cost of other essentials. All families require the financial means to purchase healthy food. We would like to see new targets to end household food insecurity by the year 2030.
Dr Thijs van Rens of the University of Warwick Department of Economics and the Warwick Obesity Network, said:
Required calorie labelling for large out-of-home businesses is a welcome start to address the restaurant and take-away sector, where many people get a large and increasing share of their food.
A ban on "junk food" advertising on TV and online is long overdue.
While we welcome the government renewed commitment to announce a ban on advertising, it is now time to take action. We are still waiting on the government to publish the result of its consultation on this matter, which was announced in November of last year.
In the meantime, overweight and obesity are set to overtake smoking as the biggest cause of preventable death in the UK. Overweight is the silent killer that we can do something about, just as deadly as Covid-19 and much more under our control.
Advertising is one of the elements of an environment that nudges, forces and tricks parents and children into buying and consuming food that makes them unhealthy, overweight and eventually kills them.
Effective action against HFSS food advertising means banning advertising anywhere where children are likely to see it, which means both on telly and online