ISBA leads the way on new HFSS food rules

08 December 2016

Date: 08.12.2016

ISBA leads the way by requesting new rules on the advertising of high fat, salt and sugar food and soft drink products in children’s media.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has today announced a host of 'tough new rules banning the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food or soft drink products in children's media'.

Coming into effect on 01 July 2017, the new rules reflect the outcomes of the recent public consultation and serve to harmonise broadcast and non-broadcast codes - the rules now apply across all media, including digital, social media platforms and in-game advertisements.

ISBA fully supports the new rules, designed as a means to protect children and ensure that 'advertising regulation plays its part in tackling the public health challenges related to poor childhood diet and responds effectively to fundamental changes in the way children consumer media.'

ISBA’s Director of Public Affairs, said:

“ISBA is fully behind the new rules on HFSS food and soft drinks advertising to children. Advertisers tasked ISBA to head up the request to CAP for the harmonisation of the broadcast and non-broadcast codes. It has been a very constructive journey with the help of agencies and media. We are now going to be in a better place, as the difference between TV and internet based content lessens. Pricing mechanisms that are used on TV and newspapers are different to the ones used online. Online is more accessible to a wider range of advertisers and therefore are able to cater for smaller budgets.”

“We want to make sure that advertising is responsible and that we make a significant contribution to the Governments fight against obesity. The codes changes announced this Thursday are a big step for business and for ASA/CAP”

"This is advertiser led and is very much something that came from advertisers and there has been tremendous support over the course of the formulation of the rules.”

“The effect on the market will be minimal. It is not going to affect the big spenders who are buying against non-children advertising times. They will shift their spend into different media avoiding children but still hoping reach the parents.”

Notes to editors 

  • 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; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options
  • The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS

This significant change is designed to help protect the health and wellbeing of children.

Bringing the non-broadcast advertising rules in line with the TV rules, the new restrictions will lead to a major reduction in the number of ads for HFSS food and drinks seen by children. And it will also mean ads for HFSS products will no longer be allowed to appear around TV-like content online, such as on video-sharing platforms or advergames, if they are directed at or likely to appeal particularly to children.

Our review and the new rules come in response to wider concerns in society about childhood obesity and the public health challenges it poses. The new rules also respond to shifting media habits amongst young people and evolving advertising techniques which have fundamentally changed children’s relationship with media and advertising. Research from Ofcom shows that young people aged 5-15 are spending around 15 hours each week online – overtaking time spent watching a TV set for the first time.
While there are many factors that have an impact on childhood obesity, and available evidence shows that the effect of advertising on children’s food preferences is relatively small, particularly when compared to other factors like parental influences; we believe that even a very small positive impact from these new ad restrictions could play a meaningful role in reducing potential harms to children.

About ISBA – the Voice of British Advertisers

ISBA is the only body focused solely on championing the interests of advertisers in the UK.

With over 450 advertisers in membership representing in excess of £10bn spend on marketing communications, ISBA protects its members’ freedom to advertise responsibly and helps maximise their effectiveness in deploying their marketing spend. ISBA’s remit and membership spans all market sectors and communication channels.

ISBA is the sole advertiser representative on both the Advertising Association, and CAP and BCAP, the UK advertising code-owning bodies, and is the first port of call for regulatory bodies on all issues affecting advertisers. Beyond the UK, ISBA is a member of the WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) and the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce Advertising and Marketing Commission).

A selection of our members…… 

Press Contact:

Hicham Felter

ISBA - The Voice of British Advertisers

Communications Manager


T: 020 7291 9020

M: 07901 528 980


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