Parents and health campaigners have overwhelmingly backed a pre-watershed ban on junk food adverts.
Earlier this year broadcast watchdog Ofcom launched a consultation on a series of measures to curb food and drink adverts aimed at children in an effort to tackle rising rates of obesity.
That consultation has now closed. In the responses posted on Ofcom’s site, support for a pre-9pm ban on commercials for food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt outnumbers any of the other options by more than 100 to one.
The National Heart Forum (NHF), an alliance of charities, consumer organisations and health professionals, found that more than 1,000 of the 1,173 responses posted supported pre-9pm restrictions.
Junk food ads
Which?, along with more than 40 other charities and organisations and the government’s Food Standards Agency, supports a pre-watershed ban on junk food ads.
But the food industry and advertisers have put forward their own proposals which fall short of such a ban.
NHF Deputy Chief Executive Jane Landon said: ‘Ofcom has argued throughout the consultation process that a 9pm ban on junk food advertising would be “disproportionate”.
‘Yet these responses to its own consultation bear witness to the widespread and rising concern about the damage to children’s health and well-being from commercial pressures to eat unhealthy foods.’
Ofcom is considering the responses to its consultation and is due to make an announcement this autumn.
Which? food campaigner Miranda Watson said: ‘The industry stands alone in its opposition to a 9pm watershed for the marketing of unhealthy food to children. With 1 million children predicted to suffer from obesity by 2010, Ofcom cannot afford to ignore the overwhelming public call for robust restrictions.’
But Julian Hunt, Director of Communications at the Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, said a complete pre-watershed ban was overly restrictive and unnecessarily curbed advertising to a mostly adult audience.