IPA supports AA response to TfL’s HFSS consultation

The IPA strongly supports the AA’s response to TfL’s consultation into the advertising of HFSS products on its network, in which it advocates evidence-based and proportionate action on a multi-faceted issue.

Following the announcement of a consultation, Advertising Association CE Stephen Woodford has commented:

“We welcome today’s announcement of a consultation into the advertising of HFSS products on the TfL network by the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, as part of the draft London Food Strategy. Our industry is always ready to play our role in supporting evidence-based and proportionate action around responsible advertising.

“It is important to note, as this consultation begins, that the advertising rules in force in the UK are among the strictest in the world. They already ban the advertising of HFSS (high fat, sugar and salt) food or drink products in any and all media where under 16s make up more than 25% of the audience. This includes TV, online, social media, on the street or on public transport. For outdoor advertising, such as posters on the Underground, streets and bus shelters, there is an additional recommendation that no sites can carry HFSS advertising within 100 metres of any school. All of these measures mean that there have been dramatic falls over the last decade in the exposure of under 16s to HFSS advertising.

“International experience and independent research has shown an advertising ban would have little impact on the wider societal issues that drive obesity. The example cited by the Mayor of the work in Amsterdam to tackle obesity is a case in point. Obesity is caused by the interaction of many complex factors and requires a multi-faceted solution, such as that implemented in Amsterdam, which majored on helping people change their diet and exercise patterns. Simple, cost-free and social exercise initiatives in schools and communities, such as the Daily Mile, are also successful and can help tackle obesity and overweight among children. UK advertising stands ready to play its part in meeting this challenge.”

Agreeing with Stephen, IPA Director of Legal & Public Affairs, Richard Lindsay, says: "A ban on ads for “unhealthy foods” across London’s public transport system would certainly grab the headlines, but if the aim is to prevent childhood obesity, an ad ban is a wholly disproportionate, unnecessary and ineffective solution. Advertising is an easy target, but childhood obesity is caused by a range of socio-economic factors. Banning advertising will not solve the problem, it will just prevent businesses from promoting their products to all of us."

Further facts about advertising of HFSS products in the UK can be found on the AA website

Last updated 21 January 2022