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Unhealthy food marketed to children online

19th December 2011

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has said junk food is being promoted to children on the internet in order to bypass advertising restrictions on television.

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The BHF said companies such as Cadbury's and Nestle were using "cynical" marketing ploys and websites to reach children.

The BHF report claimed websites featured games, phrases and gifts which were created to be appealing to children.

An Advertising Association spokesman said that online advertising to children was subject to strict controls. 

The Advertising Standards Authority does not allow junk food adverts to appear in children's programmes or during programmes targeting children under 16 years of age.

These regulations do not impact websites aimed at children, although there is another regulation which bans adverts encouraging "poor nutritional habits" in children.

The BHF and the Children's Food Campaign said this allowed companies to find ways of targeting children.

They referred to sites for Nesquik and Cadbury's Buttons which featured games, puzzles and quizzes. 

Mubeen Bhutta, from the BHF, said: "Junk food manufacturers are preying on children and targeting them with fun and games they know will hold their attention."

"Regulation protects our children from these cynical marketing tactics while they're watching their favourite television programmes but there is no protection when they are online." 

A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority, said: "We rigorously administer strict advertising food rules that apply across media, including online, in the interests of the public."

"The rules are very clear: ads must not condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children." 

 

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