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Proposed ad bans are the highway to GULAG of nannying


12 Nov 2020


Health & Consumers

London, UK - Downing Street is planning to impose a total ban of all online advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS) which would include everything from promotional emails to Google adverts. HFSS products would be classed in scope of the sugar and calorie reduction programmes. Some of the products covered will be ready meals, pizzas, meat products, savoury snack products, sauces and dressings, prepared sandwiches. The plan comes as an extension of the 'better health' strategy launched in July.

The scope of advertising restrictions is not limited to but includes commercial newsletters, in-app advertising, mid-roll video ads, and advertisements which are pushed electronically to devices.

In response, Maria Chaplia, European Affairs Associate at the Consumer Choice Center, said that such proposals demonstrate that instead of approaching the UK’s obesity crisis in a smart and coherent way, the UK government has simply decided to throw advertising freedoms out of the window and lock British consumers up in a GULAG of nannying.

“The ad ban proposals are extremely short-sighted, radical, scientifically and economically unjustified, and are the UK government’s way to cover up for the COVID mess,” said Chaplia.

“Marketing restrictions are not only an expensive policy that will put brakes on the COVID recovery, but also the one that shoots in the wrong direction when it comes to obesity. Daily calorie intake in the UK has been decreasing each decade while physical inactivity has been on the rise, and lockdowns combined with gym closures has escalated this trend.

Neither will the banning junk food ads help tackle childhood obesity. Advertising associations estimated that under 16 year-old children see less than 0.5 seconds of HFSS ads per day per child and that generally advertising exposure to HFSS adverts has reduced by 70% in the past decade,” said Chaplia.

“Matt Hancock’s plan is to help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices about what they eat by depriving them of freedom to make choices for them and infantilising them even further. How is this better than Kim Jong-un's administration deciding on the number of legal haircuts for men and women?

“The health and wellbeing of consumers are of the highest importance - no doubt about that. But if we trade our freedoms to protect them, we will end up with neither,” concluded Chaplia.


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