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Study shows 80% of voters support junk food advertising ban

The data suggested the majority of people are supportive of a tax on sugar  (PA Archive)
The data suggested the majority of people are supportive of a tax on sugar (PA Archive)

Eight out of ten voters are supportive of the government preventing the advertising of unhealthy food to young people on TV and online, a study has shown.

A YouGov poll for the Obesity Health Alliance found the vast majority of the 2,037 adults quizzed were in favour of the tougher curbs on fast or junk food adverts.

This would be in addition to the sugar tax introduced in 2018, which added 18p per litre to the price of soft drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. However, further restrictions on junk food advertising have been kicked back to 2025 after delays - while a plan to stop unhealthy buy-one-get-one-free deals has not been banned, as the Johnson government had intended, but kicked into the political long grass.

Research also showed 58 per cent feel councils should prevent fast-food eateries from opening in their area, and 68 per cent supported expanding the sugar tax on soft drinks to cover crisps, biscuits and milkshakes. Money raised from the latter could be used to promote health schemes.

The levy has raised around £1.2 billion since its introduction (PA Archive)
The levy has raised around £1.2 billion since its introduction (PA Archive)

The Obesity Health Alliance said the action was needed with two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese.

“Bold action [is needed,” a statement said. “[It is important to] build on the success of the sugar tax.”

The issue could be raised at another kind of poll next year with research indicating voters could be influenced by a party supporting tougher curbs.

The Conservative Party has bowed to the sugar tax, but it is not in keeping with traditional Tory policy to have a state step in. Labour, however, could be more likely to make the measures part of a manifesto for a 2024 election campaign.

Under electoral terms, the UK is set to hold a general election next year - most likely in the first week of May.

Ben Reynolds, of Sustain, a food and farming charity, told the Times: “Our country is flooded with unhealthy food. If it was as simple as ‘eat less and move more’, we wouldn’t have a health crisis. The public are clear [about] their appetite for government intervention to put health first.”