Advertising is an engine of the Scottish economy, with the £1.7bn of adspend resulting in a contribution of £8.8bn to Scottish GDP, and revenues from advertising support 42,000 jobs across the country. The advertising industry recognises the seriousness of the obesity problem and wishes to play its part in working with the Scottish Government and other parties to address it.
The UK’s present system of advertising regulation is well-respected, recognised by the public and is working effectively. Recent changes to the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code mean that advertisements for HFSS products cannot be targeted at children through any medium. And even prior to these changes UK broadcast advertising rules were already described by Ofcom as “amongst the strictest in the world.
The 2014 McKinsey report Overcoming Obesity places media restrictions as 12th out of 16 possible interventions in terms of cost-effective impacts on obesity, saying there is “little evidence for behaviour change resulting from such restrictions.
Industry is already committed to achieving behaviour change, reduction and reformulation of products high in fat, salt and sugar. There are multiple and complex factors – beyond advertising – that are instrumental in obesity, including familial influence, sedentary lifestyles and education. We urge the Scottish Government to focus its substantial efforts and capabilities on cost-effective interventions which would have a demonstrable impact on obesity levels in the country. The advertising industry stands ready to work with them to achieve this aim.