Action on Sugar and Dental Wellness Trust react to Government’s open consultation on total restriction of online advertising for HFSS products

The government’s Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have started their open consultation on the total restriction of online advertising for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). The consultation seeks views on the proposal for a total online advertising restriction for HFSS products to reduce the amount of HFSS advertising children are exposed to online.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of Action on Sugar, commented: “We very much welcome this consultation on whether only healthy food and drink should be advertised online as it gives the opportunity for ministers to hear from the many parents who are frustrated with their children being bombarded with advertising for unhealthy foods. 
 
“As the message from the Government has been to ‘stay home’ for much of the year in the fight against COVID-19, this will have no doubt vastly increased children’s exposure to such irresponsible marketing which casts unhealthy products in the spotlight. 
 
“It’s therefore vital that a total ban across all online platforms is introduced which would ensure that all loopholes, including paid-for promotions whereby brands are using marketing techniques to push junk food ads, would be firmly closed and help turn the tide on obesity.”
 
Dr Saul Konviser of the Dental Wellness Trust added: “Oral health is a key indicator of overall health, wellbeing and quality of life and yet unfortunately, tooth decay remains one of the most common non-communicable diseases worldwide. It is therefore imperative that only non-HFSS food and drink products can be marketed and promoted to children across all forms of media – and that must include a total online ban on promotions and advertising.

“As the latest figures by the Local Government Association show, nearly 45,000 hospital operations were performed to remove rotten teeth in 2018/19 which is a stark reminder that too much sugar, especially in children’s diets, can have dire consequences. And what’s most concerning is this is all entirely preventable.”