Total ban of online advertising for unhealthy foods 'risks clobbering takeaways and restaurants'

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Total ban of online advertising for unhealthy foods 'risks clobbering takeaways and restaurants' British Takeaway Campaign (BTC).

Related tags Takeaway Advertising Government

Plans for a total ban on online adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) 'risks clobbering thousands of takeaways and restaurants', says the British Takeaway Campaign (BTC).

Earlier this week the Government announced that a new consultation had been launched on proposals to ban online adverts for HFSS foods, in a bid to tackle the country's obesity crisis.

Set to run for 6 weeks, the consultation will gather views from the public and industry stakeholders to understand the impact and challenges of introducing a total ban on the advertising of these products online.

The BTC has said such a ban would remove a crucial resource used by independent takeaways and restaurants to reach their customers.

“The Government risks clobbering thousands of independent takeaways and restaurants – from fish and chip shops to kebab houses and everything else in between – at a time when many are already reeling," says BTC vice-chairman Andrew Crook, who himself runs a fish and chip shop.

"These local businesses do not have multimillion-pound advertising campaigns. For them, social media is their shop window, especially when we’re in and out of lockdown.

"Removing their ability to advertise on Instagram or Facebook robs them of a crucial way to reach customers, when nobody knows what the future holds and takeaways continue to have a vital role in keeping the nation fed.” 

Crook adds that he has written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urging him to exempt independent takeaways, kebab shops and curry houses with fewer than five outlets from the online advertising ban.

Back in the summer it was reported that the Government was also considering a possible ban on TV advertising for HFSS products​ before 9pm as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new anti-obesity drive, and announced it was pushing ahead with plans​ to force restaurants, pubs, cafes and takeaways with more than 250 employees to add calorie labels to menus.

According to the Government, research shows children are exposed to over 15 billion adverts for HFSS products online every year.

It claims evidence shows that exposure to HFSS advertising can affect what children eat and when they eat, both in the short term by increasing the amount of food children eat immediately after being exposed to an advert, and by shaping longer-term food preferences from a young age.

"I am determined to help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices about what they eat," says Heath Secretary Matt Hancock.

"We know as children spend more time online, parents want to be reassured they are not being exposed to adverts promoting unhealthy foods, which can affect eating habits for life.

"This will be a world-leading measure to tackle the obesity challenges we face now but it will also address a problem that will only become more prominent in the future."

The consultation closes on 22 December.

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