The UK government has announced a ban on the advertising of foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) being shown on TV before 9pm and online. This is an important step forward in protecting children from the effects of junk food marketing. The evidence that unhealthy food marketing influences children’s food choices is strong, yet governments worldwide have been hesitant to step in and protect children.
Tough new rules banning junk food and drink advertising in children’s media or where children are >25% of the audience were introduced in the United Kingdom in 2017.
To reflect the ever-changing marketing world, these rules now include all non-broadcast media such as print, cinema, online and social media.
It's not all doom and gloom for marketers, the rules now allow marketing techniques to promote healthier options, which are defined by government standards not by the food industry.
To coincide with the new rules, the Children's Food Campaign has launched 'Operation Eagle Eye'. The aim of Operation Eagle Eye is to closely monitor the ads and 'swoop down' and take action if rules have been breached.
Despite progress, there is still concern that restrictions only apply when children make up more than 25% of the audience, allowing a significant number of children to be exposed to junk food marketing. A ban of junk food advertising on television before a 9pm watershed would address these concerns.