Critchlow N, Angus K, Stead M, Saw E, Newberry Le Vay J, Clarke M, Whiteside E, Froguel A & Vohra J (2019) Lessons From The Digital Frontline: Evidence to support the implementation of better regulation of digital marketing for foods and drinks high in fat, salt and sugar [HFSS Digital Regulation Report]. Cancer Research UK. London: Cancer Research UK. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.30001.43366
Overweight and obesity is the leading preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking. It is linked to a number of health conditions, including 13 different types of cancer, causing over 22,000 cancer incidences annually (approx. 6% of all cancer cases). Reducing obesity
levels therefore must be a key priority in improving public health and protecting future generations.
Research has consistently shown that advertising of high fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS) products influences dietary-related knowledge, attitudes, and consumption, especially amongst children and young people. The rise of digital media has provided new opportunities for the food and drink industry to reach, influence, and interact with consumers. However, these audiences include children and young people, which has consequences. Protecting the vulnerable from exposure to HFSS advertising, wherever it appears, is vital.
As the UK Government considers how to restrict HFSS marketing and online harms, it is crucial to ensure that regulation reflects the unique digital environment to adequately protect children from the harms of marketing. This report investigates how digital marketing for HFSS food and drink is regulated in the UK and examines alternative methods of regulating online marketing. Based upon this evidence, we have produced a best practice checklist for government and regulators.
Digital marketing; HFSS food and drinks; Food policy; Internet policy; Regulation; Self-regulation