This week the government announced that they would go ahead with the ban on the advertising of high fat, high salt and high sugar foods (HFSS foods) before the 9pm watershed.
This is great news for parents of children who watch TV but there are some things to still consider.
- Companies can still advertise through their social media – this includes YouTube which lots of children access.
- Companies can still advertise on their own websites and we know companies can be very creative with getting children involved through games and quizzes to build brand loyalty. Take Lego as a non food example of a company who do this very well.
- Rules only apply to companies with 250 staff or more so it is not a full ban.
- Companies can still advertise their other products before 9pm and we know that it is often the brand recognition which is often the most crucial when it comes to purchasing. McDonalds is often talked about in this context because they can advertise their fruit and veg portions but children won’t often see this as the thing to buy at McDonalds.
- Advertising at sports events is still permitted (although campaigning around this continues).
- Foods which are not HFSS are not necessarily healthy. We need to consider nutrition regardless of whether a product is HFSS. Take drinks which are low sugar – they don’t provide any more nutrition than water and yet they contain sweeteners and often also acids which harm the teeth far more than water. They would not be considered HFSS but are still not something we want to encourage our children to have regularly.
Whilst I welcome this ban, in fact I responded to the consultation to encourage this ban, it should not be seen as the ultimate way to help children make good food choices. It is important we don’t demonise certain foods but that we look at a range of options to encourage a healthier relationship with food.