Two local councils in England plan to ban HFSS adverts on council-owned sites

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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The local councils for Brighton & Hove and Barnsley have announced plans to axe adverts promoting food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) on council-owned sites to tackle obesity.

In Brighton, the Local Authority has proposed to ban the advertising of junk food on council-owned bus shelters and billboards, while in Barnsley, companies will not be allowed to advertise HFSS products in spaces like libraries and museums.

Some of the products which come under the ban include foods like chocolate, cakes, sweets, burgers, pizzas, and soft drinks.

In April 2022, an audit revealed 7-8% of adverts on bus shelters in the Brighton & Hove region promoted HFSS foods.

All bus shelters in Brighton & Hove are owned by the local council, and adverts have often been sold on billboards.

Recent figures released by the BBC’s Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) have also shown the number of 11-year-olds in the region who classify either as overweight or obese has increased from 30 to 34% in the last 12 months.

In Barnsley, one in three children in their final year of primary school and two in three adults are overweight or obese.

The charity Sustain will work with Barnsley Council to implement the ban, while Brighton’s proposal will be brought before the council’s Adult Social Care and Public Health Sub-Committee next week, where councillors will be asked to approve it.

Other Local Authorities have also introduced their own rules targeting HFSS advertising. At the start of 2019, junk food adverts were removed from the Transport for London network which resulted in Londoners buying fewer HFSS food and drinks, according to a recent study.

In 2021, Bristol also brought in an advertising ban for junk food as well as alcohol, gambling, and payday loans, making it the first city to introduce a wide-ranging advertising ban in the UK.

The Government had originally planned to implement legislation this October, preventing shops from offering multi-buy deals on HFSS foods, as well as introducing a pre-watershed advertising ban. In May howevever, it announced a delay to the law due to “an unprecendented global economic situation”.

Not sure what HFSS legislation means for your brand? Learn everything you need to know at this on-demand Masterclass:

How to innovate within HFSS restrictions

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