Salt, fat and sugar content of foods, junk food in schools, front-of-pack labelling and advertising to kids all came under scrutiny. The government decreed all needed to change, usually at considerable cost and hassle to the industry. Reformulations to cut salt content were widespread, certain 'low-quality' foods were banned from school canteens and vending machines, traffic lights were recommended as the best way to educate consumers on nutrition. But undoubtedly the biggest shock of the year was Ofcom's decision to extend the proposed ban of advertising to kids to under 16s. Given that most kids do not just watch kids' TV and understand how to use the record button, the ban looked pretty nonsensical. Worse still, Ofcom itself admitted that TV ads were "only a small part of the picture", that the changes would result in no more than a 2% improvement and that "there is no silver bullet to the obesity problem."
In the short term, experts expect advertising to migrate to other media, such as the internet, print and on-pack promotions. But it is only a matter of time before these media face similar restrictions. Whether they have any impact on teenagers' waistlines is the $64m question.