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Banning junk food adverts on TV and online to tackle obesity.

The Queen’s Speech dated 11th May 2021 includes the enacting of a Health and Care Bill aimed at ‘’Banning junk food adverts pre-9pm watershed on TV and a total ban online’’. The main objective behind this decision is to tackle obesity in the UK. By this time next year, in the UK, online advertising of junk food will be totally banned and will only be allowed to be broadcasted on TV after 9 pm. Such an announcement has undoubtedly raised diverging opinions.

The Obesity Health Alliance refers to it as “landmark policies”, opening opportunities to advertise for more healthier foods, while the Food & Drink Industry calls it a “headline-chasing policy” instead of concentrating on more effective interventions. The Advertising Associations in the UK have also urged the Ministers to avoid such bans since the success of the food and drink industry is heavily linked to the success of the UK’s world-leading advertising sector. Mauritius is no exception in terms of obesity spreading wild and fast.  Although there are several reasons contributing to this change which vary from the adoption of modern trends, rising affluence, urbanization, the dependence on cars and screen addictions, the increase availability and consumption of food is a prominent contributor to this disease. 

Covid has fuelled the situation whereby the “work from home” culture has encouraged longer hours of desk jobs, increased comfort eating all in conjunction with a lack of physical workouts. In addition to this, individuals have had more time to fill in with browsing the internet and being more exposed to what the outside world has to offer. Online platforms have since been swamped with traffic whereby customers have got more at ease with online shopping.

In Mauritius, fast-food chains are prompted as an index of development and progress. With 21 outlets across Mauritius, KFC has introduced its ‘Res Lacaz, Nou Vini’ campaign by introducing its online delivery service through Hungry Dodo and Delivery Dodo.

McDonald is also rapidly gaining more and more grounds through the expansion of added outlets and its online ‘McDelivery’ service through collaborators like Fudz, Ordermanzer and Delivery Dodo to meet the online demand of customers.

Burger King, being one of the big names and new arrivals to Mauritius, is already tickling the taste buds of people with its online teaser adverts and is due to attack the market very soon. It is obvious that this fast-food chain has already started preparing its online communication & marketing platforms to hit the market hard against its main competitors.

There is a clear divergence towards online advertising in the fast-food Industry. Will this industry take the hit if a complete online advertising ban is imposed on such food? To what extent will the Food and Drink Industry be adversely affected by such a decision? Can the Advertising Industry still be healthy with such a policy geared towards the health of its people?

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