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New advertising rules to support children’s health

Published Wednesday, 10 April 2024

City of York Council is proposing to introduce new advertising rules across York to support children and families with healthy eating.

The new advertising policy will be taken to an Executive meeting next week, and aims to restrict high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) adverts being displayed across the city.

The council is following in the footsteps of Transport for London and several other local authorities by using an evidence-based model to shape the types of products the council will allow to be advertised through its new contract.

In doing so, it is supporting the positive work across the city to improve children’s nutrition, including through the Healthy Schools Programme, healthy start vitamins and providing access to support free school meals in York so all children can learn and thrive with York Hungry Minds.

Children and young people have been shown to be more susceptible

to the effects of unhealthy food marketing than adults, and those who have been exposed to more advertising have measurably higher calorie intake.

Peter Roderick, Director of Public Health at City of York Council, said: “The number of children living with an unhealthy weight has been increasing in York and nationally. Approximately 1 in 4 reception-aged children, 1 in 3 year six children and 2 in 3 adults in York are not living with a healthy weight.

“Changing our advertising policy is another significant step in the right direction to helping support families and young people and reinforces all the positive work we’re doing across the city to improve children’s nutrition.”

Cllr Jo Coles,  Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adult Social Care, said: “As a council we want to reduce our health inequalities, including ensuring health is factored into all our policies and the decisions we make.

We know that children and particularly susceptible to food advertising and that currently over 50 percent of the calories they consume come from ultra processed food. This report is about the council using the limited powers we have to swap out unhealthy food ads for healthy ones.”

The council’s Public Health team have been working on a number of policies and guidance which promotes a healthy food environment in York; this is in line with the city’s ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy Weight’ Strategy, and the ‘Local Government Declaration on Health Weight’ which the council signed in 2019.

The new advertising policy will allow greater controls over the types of advertising that is displayed on all council property, assets and public estate in York.  Initially focusing on a new contract to manage bus shelters, the policy will also cover all new and retendered advertising contracts, including boundary signs, car parks and roundabouts.

The council’s advertising policy is designed to restrict high fat, salt and sugar products being displayed to residents to help promote better health and wellbeing, which is a core commitment of the Council Plan.

The policy also gives the council control over the marketing of a number of other products which impact on health and wellbeing in the city, including tobacco and vaping, alcohol products, advertisement for gambling products and services, and for loans and speculative financial products.

The advertising policy will be reviewed over the duration of the contract and updated for Executive future considerations when appropriate.

The Executive meeting will take place on Thursday 18 April at 5.30pm. You can read the report here. You can also watch the meeting live, or back again, here.