Lifestyle Economics

“No reason to expect” ad ban will reduce obesity

Christopher Snowdon responds to reported government obesity strategy

Commenting on reported government plans to tackle obesity Christopher Snowdon, IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics, said:

“It is disappointing to see Boris Johnson resurrecting Theresa May’s nanny state policies on food. The economy is on its knees, commercial television is in crisis, the advertising industry is making mass redundancies, and yet the government wants to make it more difficult for businesses to reach their customers.

“It is misleading to claim that the proposed bans would only affect ‘junk food’. They would apply to any so-called HFSS food (high in fat, sugar or salt). This includes raisins, sultanas, soy sauce, mustard, honey, jam, yoghurts, tinned fruit, mayonnaise, butter, olive oil and many other products that no reasonable person would consider to be unhealthy.

“An advertising ban is expected to cost TV companies £200 million a year. This cost will be passed on to viewers through poorer programming and fewer channels.

“And for what? The amount of TV advertising for HFSS food seen by children has fallen by more than two-thirds in the last fifteen years. If advertising was the problem, rates of childhood obesity should have declined. They haven’t. There is no reason to expect that further restrictions will make any difference.”


Notes to editors

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Christopher Snowdon is available for interview and further comment.

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.