UK to ban 'junk food' ads before 9 p.m.

UK to ban 'junk food' ads before 9 p.m.

The United Kingdom is banning junk food advertisements from airing on television or being shown online before 9 p.m., in an effort to address the issue of childhood obesity.

The ban, according to the U.K.’s Department of Health and Social Care, will only allow junk food advertisements to be featured between 9 p.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Outside of those hours, advertisements for foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) will not be permitted.

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Healthy foods that have HFSS content, such as honey, olive oil, avocados and marmite, however, will be exempt from the restrictions.

The ban is set to go into effect at the end of next year after a "public consultation," according to the department.

The mandate will only apply to businesses with 250 employees or more that make and/or sell HFSS products.

Small and medium-sized businesses will not be subject to the restrictions, the department noted, because the government “recognises these companies may be some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and rely on online media as the sole way to communicate with their customers.”

The department said the new policy 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.”

“We are committed to improving the health of our children and tackling obesity,” the U.K.’s Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said in a statement.

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“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,” she added.

The Department of Health and Social Care predicts that the television and online restrictions could remove 7.2 billion calories from U.K. children’s diets a year, which in turn could lower the number of obese children by more than 20,000.

London in November 2018 enacted a ban on junk food advertising on the city’s public transportation network in an effort to tackle child obesity.