Unhealthy food and regulation: a public consultation and a charter

posted on 01 March, 2023   (public)

Unhealthy food behaviour & regulation: focus on Ofcom’s consultation (UK) and Arcom’s Charter (FR)


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity rates have reached “epidemic” proportions across Europe, leading to increasing health issues. The Organization calls for actions to change the trajectory.

Among the factors under the spotlight, the marketing of unhealthy food on media remains a crucial challenge.


Hereafter, we highlight some recent measures undertaken by media regulators.


In the UK, a public consulation on advertising restrictions


Ofcom (UK) is currently consulting on its approach to the regulation of advertising of "less healthy food and drink products".

The UK Government introduced new restrictions within the Health and Care Act 2022 that will enter into force on 1 October 2025.

According to these new restrictions, advertising and sponsorship for less healthy food and drink products will be prohibited on TV services and on-demand programme services between 5.30 am and 9 pm and fully prohibited for online-paid advertising aimed at UK users.

Ofcom will be responsible for the supervision of these new restrictions, through its established co-regulatory relationships with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) and the Broadcast Standards Board of Finance (BASBOF). 

For the implementation of the new rules, the UK regulator launched a public consultation to seek the stakeholders' views on its proposed approach on 21 February 2023.

In particular, Ofcom is consulting on:

  • amendments to the Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) and the Broadcasting Code to include the new rules and a definition of “less healthy food or drink products”; and 
  • a proposal to designate the ASA as a co-regulator for the new prohibition on online advertising for less healthy food and drink products. 

Link to the consultation. The closing date for responses is 21 April 2023. 


In France, a Charter under the supervision of Arcom to promote healthy food behaviours in audiovisual programmes


This initiative was launched in 2009, when a first charter was signed.

Since 1 February 2020 and for the next five years, the signatories of this new and third Charter - broadcasters, producers and advertisers - agree to comply with a series of commitments to promote healthy food behaviours and physical activity.

In line with the Article 9 of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive regarding commercial communications, the Food Charter 2020-2024 consists of 14 commitments for the broadcasting and advertising players.

On a voluntary basis, the signatories agree, for instance, to:

- broadcast content promoting healthy life behaviour and physical activity, especially in programmes targeting children and youth
- apply preferential rates to collective campaigns promoting healthy food products
- produce content encouraging healthy behaviour, especially for young people
- promote the governmental website

The French media regulator Arcom monitors the implementation of the Charter through regular meetings with the representatives of the signatories and an annual report to the Parliament and the health and culture ministries.

For the first time, the Charter also includes evaluation tools to assess the impact of the measures undertaken by the signatories and to promote the effectiveness of such an initiative.

The French regulator invites any relevant stakeholders (radio, online platforms, advertising agencies…) to join the signatories.

Link to the Charter 2020-2024 and the presentation of the public health's role of Arcom (FR)


Source: Ofcom (UK) & Arcom (FR)

Photo by Vitalii Pavlyshynets on Unsplash

EPRA outputs: unhealthy food and drinks & minors


The issue of unhealthy food and drinks and their impact on children was addressed at the 55th EPRA meeting during the thematic plenary session on “Minors and advertising”; that took place on 12 May 2022: