Barnsley joins rush to axe junk food ads

Barnsley has become the latest council – and the first in the north of England – to restrict advertising of unhealthy foods.

New restrictions will limit advertising of products high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) as well as brand advertising on all council owned or leased advertising sites and in premises open to the public such as leisure centres and libraries.

The council, which has worked on the policy with the NGO, Sustain, will use the Food Standard Agency’s nutrient profiling model to determine which products are HFSS, and therefore restricted, and which are non-HFSS. Businesses can continue to advertise as long as they promote a healthier product on the advertising copy.

Julia Burrows, director of public health for Barnsley Council, said the council was working with businesses who already advertise within the affected area and will work collaboratively with any future businesses to make sure they can advertise healthy food and drink. “We’re hoping this will be the first step in other organisations in Barnsley adopting a similar policy,” she added.

Barnsley’s decision is part of a wider movement by local authorities to clamp down on advertising of unhealthy food and drink products. Transport for London implemented a healthier food advertising policy in 2019 which has contributed to households buying 1000 fewer calories from HFSS products per week, and 20% fewer sugary purchases.

The London boroughs of Greenwich, Haringey, Merton and Southwark have since followed suit as has Bristol city council. Each have been supported by Sustain which says it has been contacted by more than 80 local authorities for advice on their own policies. 

“We're delighted to have worked with Barnsley Council to remove the spotlight from unhealthy foods and drinks,” said Fran Bernhardt, Sustain's children's food campaign coordinator. “As the first town in the north to introduce these policies, we hope their achievements will inspire other areas across the country to take a stand for children's health.”

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