Commenting on the Government’s consultation response on advertising restrictions for junk food1, Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, said:
“The BMA has long campaigned for a 9pm watershed on advertising and promotion of junk food so we strongly welcome this announcement. We must reduce the exposure of children and young people to constant adverts for food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar.
“However, we would like the plans to go even further to better protect the nation’s health. We’ve also called on the Government to implement a total online advertising ban of such products. Evidence shows that children spend between one to three hours connected to the internet2 every day, figures which have doubtless increased due to the pandemic and home-schooling.
“We have provided evidence to the Government that shows that combined broadcast and online advertising amplifies the overall effect of a marketing campaign, and increases consumer purchasing. The World Health Organisation3 states that governments have a duty to protect children from junk food marketing online and recommends that off-line protections are extended into the online environment.
“Without a total ban on online marketing of these products, there is a risk that the planned advertising spend on broadcast TV would simply be diverted to the internet, and therefore undermine the positive effects of a ban on TV advertising before 9pm.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.
1. Government's response to consultation
2. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde: screen time
3. World Health Organization (2016). Tackling food marketing to children in a digital world: trans-disciplinary perspectives. WHO Regional Office for Europe.