Ban on online junk food ads WILL go ahead

By | May 11, 2021

Boris pushes ahead with ‘nanny state’ total BAN on online junk food ads after his own Covid battle – amid fears avocados, salmon, Marmite and HOUMOUS could fall foul of new rules

  • Government is pushing ahead with plans for total ban on online junk food ads
  • Proposals were put out for consultation before Christmas but face opposition
  • Understood it faced fierce resistance to going ahead within the government 

What might be covered by online ad ban? 

The proposed ban on junk food adverts online will target food and drink products are high in fat, sugar and salt.

How a product is classified as HFSS has not been finalised yet.

Experts suggest the ‘traffic light’ system on food packaging could be used. The Government has also developed the Nutrient Profile Model. 

Foods that could be considered HFSS under these methods could include: 

  • Avocados
  • Salmon 
  • Marmite
  • Mustard
  • Hummus 
  • Ketchup
  • Cheese
  • Honey 
  • Oils and dressings 
  • Butter and spreads 
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Crisps and savoury snacks
  • Biscuits  

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Boris Johnson is set to press ahead with controversial plans for a total ban on online junk food ads, despite industry experts branding the idea ‘not even half-baked’. 

The Queen’s Speech includes legislation to impose the restrictions, along with a block on TV adverts before the 9pm watershed and ending buy one get one free deals for unhealthy foods. 

But No10 has ditched another controversial proposal that would have forced pubs to list calorie counts on all beer, wine and spirits, following fury from hospitality bosses who branded the idea ‘un-British’. 

Plans to ban junk food adverts online were put out to consultation just before Christmas but faced fierce opposition from senior Tories and the industry. 

Critics said the online ads move was ‘insane’ after research suggested it might only shave a couple of calories a day off children’s intake. Whitehall insiders said the plans would be shelved.

But Boris Johnson — who has backed an anti-obesity crackdown following his own Covid scare last spring — will go ahead with the move.

It could affect avocados, houmous, salmon and Marmite, although officials insist it would be targeted at foods high in sugar, salt, fat or calories. 

According to the new legislative plan the Government ‘will restrict the promotions on high fat, salt and sugar food and drinks in retailers from April 2022’. 

The Health and Care Bill will also ‘include measures to ban junk food adverts pre-9pm watershed on TV and for a total ban online’.

The Prime Minister was once a vocal opponent of ‘nanny state’ meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals. 

But he underwent a Damascene conversion after a near-fatal brush with Covid last spring.  

He admitted being ‘too fat’ was the reason for his stint in intensive care. Obesity is one of the main risk factors for the virus. 

Last summer the PM unveiled a wide-ranging drive to improve public health, including a ban on buy-one-get-one-free deals for junk food, as well as the ban on online junk food adverts. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock previously pointed to studies suggesting children see 15billion adverts for unhealthy food every year.

Boris Johnson (pictured running this week) was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals

Boris Johnson (pictured running this week) was once a vocal opponent of state meddling in eating and drinking habits, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals

He has voiced determination to ‘help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices’ and offer reassurance that children are not being exposed to adverts promoting unhealthy foods ‘which can affect eating habits for life’.

But while the Obesity Health Alliance and British Heart Foundation welcomed the idea many Tories view it as an unacceptable intervention by the ‘nanny state’. 

No10 ditches plans to force pubs to list calories in drinks sold in pubs

The Government has ditched plans to force pubs to list calories in drinks as part of a drive to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis, Downing Street has confirmed.

In April, the Government said it was consulting on introducing mandatory calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks – with a view to highlighting so-called ‘hidden liquid calories’.

The move was met with fury by the drinks industry, with the British Beer and Pub Association saying pubs were already ‘on their knees’ due to the Covid pandemic.

A briefing document published to accompany the Queen’s speech said firms with more than 250 employees will be forced to list calories on food, but there is no mention of drinks.

Downing Street said the plans for calorie labelling will focus on food and not on drinks, relieving pubs of the need to label the calories contained in pints.

Pressed on why drinks have not been included in the plans, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We’ve listened to the feedback from the consultation and we think this is the right approach to take forward now and that’s why we will set out more detail in a consultation response which is coming out later.’

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There have been claims it could stop pubs struggling with Covid from putting menus on social media. 

The food industry has condemned the scheme as ‘not even half-baked’, saying it ‘beggars belief’.

The Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank warned it would cover ‘everything from jam and yoghurt to Cornish pasties and mustard’.

The think-tank added in a statement last year: ‘It is an ill-considered policy designed by fanatics who have missold it to politicians as a ban on ‘junk food’ advertising.’

The Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, slammed the plans to ban online junk food ads.

Its chief scientific officer Kate Halliwell said: ‘The advertising bans on TV and online outlined in today’s Queen’s Speech, confirms this Government is interested in headline chasing policy rather than making serious interventions that will help reduce obesity rates.

‘A proposed advertising ban would remove less than five calories a day from children’s diets, according to the Government’s own estimates. 

‘And yet the proposals limit the scope for advertising products that have been carefully reformulated or created in smaller portions in-line with the Government’s own targets. For example, Cadbury would not be able to advertise their 30 per cent reduced sugar Dairy Milk.

‘This is tying businesses hands, by limiting how healthier options can be successfully brought to market. 

‘It undercuts what has been a key pillar of the Government’s obesity strategy, and demonstrates a lack of joined-up policy making.’

However, Caroline Cerny, of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: ‘The commitment to taking forward restrictions on junk food adverts online is very welcome news and shows that the Government is serious about putting our nation’s health first by effectively addressing the drivers of obesity. 

‘If implemented fully, with a 9pm watershed on unhealthy food adverts on TV and restrictions on promotions, these landmark policies will stem the flood of unhealthy food and drink adverts, opening up opportunities for more healthier foods to be advertised.’

Previously, the Prime Minister previously described himself as ‘very libertarian’ and refused to back restrictions on fast food advertising and so-called ‘sin taxes’ on junk food companies. 

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But he admitted having a change of heart after falling critically ill with Covid last April at the height of the first wave, reportedly telling advisers in May: ‘I have changed my mind on this.’

The Government has ditched plans to force pubs to list calories in drinks as part of a drive to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis, Downing Street has confirmed. It sparked fury at the time it was leaked. MailOnline's graphic shows how many calories are in popular alcoholic drinks, with a pint of Guinness containing 210 calories — roughly the same as a KitKat Chunky

The Government has ditched plans to force pubs to list calories in drinks as part of a drive to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis, Downing Street has confirmed. It sparked fury at the time it was leaked. MailOnline’s graphic shows how many calories are in popular alcoholic drinks, with a pint of Guinness containing 210 calories — roughly the same as a KitKat Chunky

He has also suggested that Britain’s obesity crisis has been partly to blame for the nation recording one of the worst death tolls during the pandemic. 

Mr Johnson — who admitted to having late night binges of cheese and chorizo — has been seen going for daily jogs with his dog since recovering from Covid and is said to have lost at least 14 pounds.

In a video posted on his Twitter account last October announcing the Government’s obesity crackdown, the PM described his Covid fight. His near-death brush with coronavirus is thought to have triggered the action.

He said: ‘When I went into ICU, when I was very ill, I was very… I was way overweight. I’m only about 5 foot 10, at the [most], and, you know, I was too fat.’

He added the plan to ban junk food adverts before the watershed and scrap ‘BOGOF’ deals on junk food was not meant to be ‘excessively bossy’ but a gentle nudge. 

People who are clinically obese are about 40 per cent more likely to die of Covid than those of a healthy weight, according to Public Health England figures. 

Number 10 has already launched a £100million Government drive to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis, which will include a ban on buy-one-get-one-free supermarket deals in 2022.

A fitness drive is also expected, with millions of pounds allocated to encourage walking and cycling.

GPs will be given the ability to prescribe more than 700,000 of the fattest Brits diet plans, apps and wearable activity trackers. 

It comes as Downing Street confirmed the Government has ditched plans to force pubs to list calories in drinks as part of a drive to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis.

In April, the Government said it was consulting on introducing mandatory calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks – with a view to highlighting so-called ‘hidden liquid calories’.

The move was met with fury by the drinks industry, with the British Beer and Pub Association saying pubs were already ‘on their knees’ due to the Covid pandemic.

A briefing document published to accompany the Queen’s speech said firms with more than 250 employees will be forced to list calories on food, but there is no mention of drinks.

Downing St said the plans for calorie labelling will focus on food and not on drinks, relieving pubs of the need to label the calories contained in pints.

Pressed on why drinks have not been included in the plans, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We’ve listened to the feedback from the consultation and we think this is the right approach to take forward now and that’s why we will set out more detail in a consultation response which is coming out later.’ 

Boris’ battle with the bulge: How Covid scared Prime Minister into ditching midnight fridge raids on cheese and chorizo… with a little help from fiancée Carrie   

Boris Johnson claimed he lost a stone on the back of his Covid scare by exercising daily and ditching late night cheese and chorizo binges.

Mr Johnson, 56, famously admitted ‘I was too fat’ after falling severely ill with the disease and being admitted to intensive care last April. 

The PM claimed to have lost about 14 pounds in the summer of 2020 after hiring a personal trainer and taking up intermittent fasting to speed up his weight loss.

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Fiancée Carrie Symonds was also credited for helping the PM slim down.

Mr Johnson admitted to weighing 16.5stone (105kg) in 2018 when he was Foreign Secretary. At 5ft 10in, that made the PM clinically obese.

He blamed his bulging waistline on ‘late night binges of chorizo and cheese’ and revealed he had been shamed into cutting back by his doctor.  

At his heaviest, the PM weighed 17stone in 2013. In his column for The Telegraph at the time, he joked that his plan to get fitter was called Operation Chiselled Whippet. 

He wrote: ‘Since my normal cycling speed is so slow that my wife says it is a miracle I stay upright, I have decided to get in shape.’ 

Mr Johnson lost 12lbs in two weeks at the end of 2018 in the run up to his bid for Prime Minister.

Mr Johnson running in 2018

Mr Johnson running today, March 4

Mr Johnson credits his regular exercise – he is often pictured running in the morning – with helping him to lose ‘quite a lot’ of weight

He claimed during that time he was on track to dip below 15 stone (210lbs) for the first time since university.

He said he had taken to ‘guzzling water’ rather than drinking alcohol, writing in the Spectator at time time: ‘I breakfast like some Georgian hermit on porridge with a luxury sprinkling of nuts.’ 

Eton-educated Mr Johnson, who enjoyed rugby and cricket at school, first took up running in the early 2000s but reportedly gave up recently because of his knees.

Before Covid he was an avid tennis player and regularly played on the courts at Chequers, the PM’s country residence. 

In a Twitter video posted to his Twitter account last autumn, the PM encouraged the nation to lose weight while detailing his own dietary struggles.

He said: ‘I’ve been doing a lot, in fact everything I can, to lose weight and to feel fitter and healthier. 

‘What I’ve been doing is I’ve been eating less carbs, avoiding chocolate, no more late night cheese – all that kind of thing.

‘I’ve been getting up early to go for runs and the result is, you know, I actually have lost some weight – quite a lot by my standards. And I feel much more energetic, I feel full of beans and I thoroughly, thoroughly recommend it.

‘I know there are many people who are in the same sort of position as I am, and I was, and who want to lose weight. 

‘And that’s why we’re investing now, in that whole national objective, £100million to help people to access GP appointments, to get the right apps that they need to help them to lose weight, and we’re also looking at various fit-miles schemes as well. 

‘What we want to do is to encourage another 700,000 people around the country who have the same problems that I have had to do the same thing. 

‘So we’ll be not just fitter, but also healthier and happier, and we’ll bounce back better together.’

His fiancee, Carrie Symonds, is also ‘playing a big part’ in how careful he is with his diet. ‘She eats incredibly healthily which makes things a lot easier,’ a No10 source told the Mail on Sunday in March. 

Mr Johnson was in a high-risk group for Covid-19 when he caught the disease in April last year, because his BMI was around 34, making him obese.

He was 16stone and 7lbs (105kg), The Times reported, and is approximately 5ft 10in tall (175cm), meaning he was far too heavy for his weight. 

The NHS considers a BMI of 25 or higher to be overweight and 30 or higher to be obese. 18.5 to 25 is a healthy range.


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