Government to shift from more ad rules to anti-obesity campaign

LONDON - The government looks set to avoid calling for tougher food and drink marketing restrictions and commit a substantial amount of its £300m anti-obesity strategy budget to a high-profile marketing push to tackle the problem.

The shift away from tougher restrictions is believed to have been driven by James Purnell, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport.

Last autumn it had looked as if the government favoured new rules, but Purnell's department (DCMS) has been instrumental in stating the case for the marketing industry and commercial broadcasters. It is believed the DCMS had a hand in watering down the Department of Health proposals, which at one point were regarded as restrictive.

The anti-obesity strategy, due to be unveiled 23 January, is set to lay out plans for a marketing campaign, including TV ads promoting healthy eating and exercise, aimed at parents.

But in a nod to campaigners, Ofcom's review of the effects of the restrictions already in place on the promotion of food high in fat, salt or sugar will be brought forward.

The strategy will also include plans to halt the growth of fast-food outlets near schools as well as the creation of 'healthy towns'.


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