‘Half of TV food ads seen by chil­dren are for junk’

Western Mail - - NEWS -

AROUND half of tele­vi­sion food and drink ad­verts seen by chil­dren are for prod­ucts high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) or for fastfood restau­rants, re­searchers have found.

The ad­ver­tis­ing of junk food prod­ucts has been banned dur­ing chil­dren’s pro­grammes since 2007 but the In­sti­tute for Fis­cal Stud­ies (IFS) found that 70% of TV cam­paigns for HFSS prod­ucts or restau­rants and bars are screened prior to the 9pm wa­ter­shed.

Ev­i­dence from Of­com sug­gests that in 2016 chil­dren spent 64% of their view­ing time watch­ing tele­vi­sion out­side chil­dren’s pro­gram­ming.

Some 87% of the TV ad­ver­tis­ing for food and drink seen by chil­dren aged four to 15 in 2015 was dur­ing non-chil­dren’s pro­gram­ming, ac­cord­ing to the IFS.

They found that 39% of these ads seen by chil­dren were for HFSS food and drink and 11% were for restau­rants and bars, most of which were fast-food out­lets.

Re­cent dis­cus­sion ahead of the sec­ond wave of the gov­ern­ment’s child­hood obe­sity strat­egy has in­cluded calls from health cam­paign­ers and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to ex­tend cur­rent re­stric­tions on the ad­ver­tis­ing of HFSS prod­ucts to cover all pre-wa­ter­shed sched­ul­ing.

A new re­port from a lead­ing group of MPs also en­dorsed calls for a 9pm wa­ter­shed on junk food ad­ver­tis­ing.

The Health and So­cial Care Se­lect Com­mit­tee made rec­om­men­da­tions to help solve the na­tion’s child­hood obe­sity epi­demic.

Rebekah Stroud, a re­search econ­o­mist at IFS and co-au­thor of the brief­ing note, said: “In 2015, up to 35% of the TV ad­verts for food and drink that chil­dren saw would have been di­rectly af­fected had re­stric­tions ap­plied be­fore the wa­ter­shed.”

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