Children’s ‘junk food’ ad ban hailed by FDF

By Matt Atherton

- Last updated on GMT

Junk food advertising has been banned across all children's media
Junk food advertising has been banned across all children's media

Related tags Childhood obesity Fdf director general Drink industry Advertising Nutrition Fdf

The decision to ban ‘junk food’ advertising across all children’s media, in a bid to tackle childhood obesity, has been welcomed by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

The advertising ban would affect all non-broadcast media – including print, cinema, online and social media – aimed at children between the ages five and 15, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) revealed this week (December 8). FDF director general Ian Wright said the decision to ban the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HPSS) food and drink products was “a major step forward for the industry”​.

“It’s a major move, a move which the FDF has been one of the prime architects,”​ Wright said. “It’s taken a long time to get to this point – rightly so, because it has to be well considered – and it’s a really important symbol of the kind of food and drink industry we’re going to build over the coming years.

‘Changing British culture on obesity’

“It’s a major example of self-regulation, it’s​ a major example of the progressive and constructive way the food and drink industry is playing its part in changing the British culture on obesity.”

The rule change – to be introduced from July 2017 – was a response to changing media habits among children, the CAP said. As young people were spending around 15 hours a week online – overtaking time spent watching TV for the first time – advertising techniques had changed to target this growing audience, it claimed.

The new restrictions would significantly reduce the number of ads for HFSS products seen by children, claimed CAP chairman James Best.

‘A serious and complex issue’

Best said: “Childhood obesity is a serious and complex issue and one that we’re determined to play our part in tackling.

“Our tough new rules are a clear demonstration that the ad industry is willing and ready to act on its responsibilities and puts the protection of children at the heart of its work.”

But, while any attempt to improve childhood obesity has been generally welcomed, the Children’s Food Campaign co-ordinator Malcolm Clark insisted there was still a big grey area surrounding the new ‘junk food’ ad rules.

“CAP has failed to learn the lessons from industry’s exploitation of loopholes in TV advertising regulations,”​ said Clark. “Just as many of the TV programmes most watched by children aren’t covered by the rules, so it looks like many of the most popular social media sites won’t be either; neither will billboards near schools, or product packaging itself.

“Unfortunately, the power still seems to be very much in the hands of manufacturers and advertisers, not parents.”

Meanwhile, draft legislation for the Soft Drink Industry Levy​ was slammed by law firm DWF this week. The tax would see manufacturers charged for producing drinks with levels of added sugar above 5g per 100ml.

Banned junk food ads – at a glance

  • All junk food ads targeting kids banned on all media
  • Rule change to be introduced in July 2017
  • FDF boss said decision was “a major step forward for the industry”

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