A six week consultation led by the Department of Health and Social Care will try and understand the impact of introducing the total ban, which aims to tackle the country’s growing obesity crisis.
However, the plans were labelled ‘insane’ by one think tank, who warned warned foods such as avocados, Marmite, mustard and hummus could be affected, alongside fish and chips, and curry.
The new rules, which go much further than proposals in the summer, would affect foods deemed to be too high in fat, salt and sugar.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “I am determined to help parents, children and families in the UK make healthier choices about what they eat. We know children spend more time online. Parents want to be reassured they are not being exposed to adverts promoting unhealthy foods, which can affect habits for life.”
The tougher-than-expected rules came after Boris Johnson changed his view on personal health decisions following his coronavirus infection. Overweight people are at risk of more severe illness from Covid, or death.
If implemented, the ban would affect digital marketing, from ads on Facebook, to paid-search results on Google, text message promotions, and social media activity on Twitter and Instagram.
Advertising campaigners said the plans would also deal a ‘huge blow’ to a sector already dealing with the impact of coronavirus.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the Advertising Association, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and the Internet Advertising Bureau UK said: “To borrow the Prime Minister’s language, this is not an ‘oven-ready’ policy; it is not even half-baked. ‘But it does have all the ingredients of a kick in the teeth for our industry from a Government which we believed was interested in prioritising economic growth alongside targeted interventions to support health and wellbeing.”