Babies and children * Young people * Healthy living * Weight loss

Ban junk food ads before watershed

Ban junk food ads before watershed Call for complete ban

All junk food advertising should be banned from being shown before the watershed, a children's food charity has said.

Children's overall exposure to adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) has fallen by 37 per cent in the past five years, according to a report published today by Ofcom.

However, the latest figure falls short of the broadcast regulator's prediction that advertising restrictions on HFSS foods would result in a 41 per cent reduction.

In 2007, adverts for HFSS foods were stopped from being shown during children's television programmes. But the restrictions didn't apply to talent shows and soaps, adult programmes often watched by children.

While children's exposure to HFSS advertising has been reduced by 51 per cent for four to nine year olds, in older children the reduction was only 22 per cent.

The report also shows that just over half of HFSS ads seen by children occur during adult airtime.

Ofcom said the current advertising restrictions on HFSS foods are to remain in place, and does not intend to extend them further.

Christine Haigh, coordinator for the Children's Food Campaign, said: “The review shows what we’ve always said: that regulation of food advertising to children is needed to reduce children’s exposure to junk food marketing. However, it also shows that the current regulations don’t go far enough.

"As we argued when the restrictions were introduced, we need a tougher approach to protecting children from junk food marketing if we are to address the record levels of childhood obesity in this country. The figures show that a 9pm watershed would be a more effective way of protecting children.

Peter Hollins, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: "Banning junk food adverts during children's programmes has clearly had some positive effect. But the Government can, and should, go further. The report showed the ban was less effective for older children, who watch TV shows like The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent where restrictions don't apply.

"A complete ban on junk food advertising before 9pm would better protect them from the influence of slick advertising campaigns while they learn how to choose between treats and foods that are good for them."

This article was published on Tue 27 July 2010

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