Watershed call for junk food advertising

The British Heart Foundation is calling for a watershed on junk food advertising.
The British Heart Foundation is calling for a watershed on junk food advertising.

Around 1,120 of Year Six children in Northumberland are obese or overweight, according to the latest statistics.

Now the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is calling for a ban on all junk food TV advertising before 9pm, as part of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy, to help improve children’s health.

Current regulations mean that foods high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar are banned from being advertised during children’s programming.

Analysis by the BHF shows that loopholes mean that food companies can advertise junk food during programmes watched by children.

The latest Ofcom figures show that 65 per cent of children watch TV during what is considered adult airtime. Peak viewing for children is between 7pm and 8pm, when up to 1.8million youngsters are glued to their TV screens.

One of the most popular programmes for children is the X-Factor, with up to 1.2 million children aged four to 15 watching.

During last year’s series, the BHF found adverts for foods high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar, all of which are banned during children’s programming.

Thirteen adverts promoting unhealthy snacks such as crisps, chocolate bars and pizzas were shown during one show.

Mike Hobday, director of policy at the BHF, said: “We mustn’t allow food companies to continue to exploit a failing regulatory system that allows them to bombard TV screens with junk food adverts at the times when the highest numbers of children are watching TV.

“We need to protect young people against the sophisticated marketing techniques of junk food advertisers to help tackle the obesity crisis which threatens the heart health of future generations.”

The BHF is part of a national alliance calling for a range of policies to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis, including a 9pm watershed for TV advertising of junk food and a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks.