Approximately one third of children in the UK are now classified as overweight and the government are working hard to reduce this in order to save lives and prevent health conditions later in life. Plans set out over the next ten years include clearer food labelling, a soft drinks industry levy, reducing sugar by 20% in products and improving physical activity programmes in schools. Our very own Neil Brenson recently blogged on the Public Health England guidelines around this sugar reduction plan, read it here.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has also responded to concerns about childhood obesity and is aiming to tackle this by reducing the amount of advertising that children see for products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) on the TV and internet. Ofcom research found 5-15 year olds spend around 15 hours a week online, overtaking TV hours per week, so this is a critical area to address.

CAP is introducing new rules which will come into effect from 1 July 2017 and will prevent the advertising of HFSS food and soft drinks in the media that is aimed at (or likely to be popular with) children (defined as under 16 years old). The new rules will also bring non-broadcast rules in line with TV rules, maximising efforts to improve children’s diet.

So what is classified as an HFSS product? The definition of whether a product is HFSS is based on the Department of Health’s (DoH) Nutrient Profiling Model available here. The product nutrients are assessed and scored, and where the total score of a product is 4 or more for food, or 1 or more for drink, the product is classified as HFSS. Scoring is the duty of the brand owner and they must ensure they are marketing their HFSS product responsibly.

Pretty much all advertising and media is covered by the rules. As a starter for ten, the following will be included in the new rules, but for more information visit the ASA website here:

Cinema, press ads, leaflets & brochures, outdoor ads and posters, direct mail, emails/texts, online ads, apps and advergames, brand websites, social media and advertorials.
CAP are very specific about the rules applying to advertising as oppose to marketing communications, so the rules do not apply to packaging or fixed POS.

In summary, the rules will mean that:
• Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media
• Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience
• Ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children

Are you ready for the rules? There are many resources to help get fully prepared, from the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) website, to specialist organisations such as Promo Veritas. Gen up and get ready, 1st July is just around the corner!

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