Food and drink ads face clampdown

30 June 2014

LONDON: Food and drink advertisers have come under the spotlight and face the possibility of tighter controls after the UK government announced a series of measures to tackle the country's growing obesity problem.

Public Health England (PHE), a government agency, has launched an investigation into advertising promotions of fizzy drinks and other products considered to have high levels of sugar, fat and salt.

The health agency intervened after the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition published a report recommending that Britons halve their daily intake of sugar or risk health complications, Marketing reported.

PHE said it would consider the case for tighter controls on advertising certain foods as it urged advertisers to promote sugar-free and low-calorie alternatives as part of a wider initiative that will involve manufacturers, retailers, consumers and charities.

A nationwide advertising and PR campaign will be launched to help underpin the initiative, Marketing Week reported, and this will involve a digital drive to help parents reduce their children's sugar consumption.

Speaking on behalf of the advertising industry, Ian Barber, communications director at the Advertising Association, argued that advertising's impact on obesity is small, if any, but said the industry would look at what it could do to help.

"We're looking forward to working with PHE to help them understand advertising's role, and to consider what positive steps industry can take to help improve the national diet," he said.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) also said it wanted to help, but warned that a focus on reducing calorie intake needed to be considered too.

Barbara Gallani, director of regulation, science and health at the FDF, said: "Britain's food and drink manufacturers recognise that obesity is one of the nation's biggest public health challenges which is why we want to play our part to help consumers reduce calorie intakes and become more active."

Data sourced from Marketing, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff