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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Children are still exposed to junk food ads

16th February 2012

Researchers have suggested that regulations on junk food advertising on TV are having little impact.


A study by Newcastle University has revealed that children are still exposed to the same level of junk food advertising despite tighter regulations in 2009 banning the advertising of foods high in fat, salt or sugar during children's programming.

Their figures suggest that 6.1% of adverts seen by children were about junk food before the ban but that had risen to 7% after the ban.

They compared the amount of unhealthy food advertising six months before the restrictions were introduced in 2007 and for the six months after they came into effect.

While most adverts abided by the rules, they found junk food advertising in programmes not aimed at children but still watched by them.

Dr Jean Adams, lecturer in public health at Newcastle University, said: “While adverts stay within the letter of the law, I think we can say we're still not getting the spirit of the law.”

She said there was a need to further tighten up the restrictions if they are to help reduce levels of child obesity.

TV watchdog Ofcom, which brought in the restrictions, rejected the findings and said there had been a significant decrease of 37% in how much young people viewed adverts for unhealthy food but that it had noted the Newcastle University research.

The British Heart Foundation said the research highlighted a “loophole” in the regulations and called for all junk food adverts to be screened after the 9pm watershed.


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