Happy birthday NHS: does a healthy future depend on HFSS ad cuts?

The NHS celebrates its 75th birthday this week and Keir Starmer has marked the anniversary with a Labour Party video persuading us that the health service would be safer in their hands than it is under the Tories.

Bad news for brands though, because Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting’s strategy to help rebuild the NHS include clamping down on shady marketing practices and HFSS foods in order to tackle the obesity epidemic.

He has repeatedly attacked Nestlé’s Kit Kat cereal, which is promoted as being healthy but is in fact made up of 25% sugar.

Already, Streeting is in talks with food companies about ways to address the obesity epidemic. The powerful conglomerates may convince him to keep his nose out of their business, but he explained to Times Radio that he is already making plans to cut down on HFSS promotions if Labour win the next general election.

Changes must be across the board because unilateral action doesn’t work, he said, citing the example of an unnamed supermarket that bravely held off alcohol promotions during the FIFA World Cup last year, because of concerns over drunkenness and domestic abuse, only to see its market share fall by 3%.

Who knows if Streeting will manage to implement any genuine change if he becomes Health Secretary, but he is showing signs of getting tough – unlike the current government which recently delayed its BOGOF (buy one get one free) ban on HFSS foods until 2025.

Marketers and the ad industry will already be drawing out the battle lines ahead of next year’s general election, in anticipation of a potential Labour win. Looks like their easy ride could soon be over.

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