The maker of chocolate bars Mars and Snickers has announced it is to stop targeting advertising at children under-12.
Masterfoods says it expects the new policy – which will apply to all advertising, including online and new media – to be fully implemented by the end of the year.
The group – which also makes Bounty, M&Ms and Maltesers – already has a policy of not advertising to children younger than six.
A company spokesman said: ‘Over the last several years, concerns have been expressed by governments and parents about the marketing of products to children.
‘Mars believes it is important to listen to concerns and respond directly, in keeping with our desire to support the paramount role of parents in making purchasing decisions about foods on behalf of their children.
‘We have therefore decided we will not direct communications about our core food and confectionery products to children under the age of 12, with the exception of our ‘better for you’ products which meet regional nutritional guidelines, where the cut-off will be nine years of age.
‘Also, we will not participate in promotions primarily directed to children under 12, again with the exception of products we intend to develop to meet the specific nutritional interests of children.’
Miranda Watson, Campaign Team Leader, Which?, said: ‘While it is encouraging that Masterfoods recognises the need to address irresponsible marketing to children, it is disappointing that only children up to 12 will be covered by its new policy. Obesity among older children is even higher and advertising plays a key part in the food choices they make.’