Ofcom rules must have the X FactorRegulator announces findings of interim review

19 December 2008

The amount of television advertising for unhealthy food seen by children is thought to have dropped by a third since 2005, Ofcom announced this week.

Ofcom released the findings as part of an interim review of the effects of restrictions on tv advertising of less healthy food and drink.

Most unhealthy food advertising seen by children is broadcast between 6pm and 9pm, however the amount they saw during this time fell by an estimated 29%. Children are also seeing fewer food and drink adverts using cartoon and film characters, offering free gifts and making health claims, but more with celebrities, Ofcom found.

Ban set for unhealthy ads

The main commercial channels - ITV1, GMTV, Channel 4 and Five - saw an overall reduction in advertising revenues and a 6% decline in food and drink advertising revenue, the report said. All remaining adverts for unhealthy food will be banned from children's channels when the final phase of restrictions are introduced at the beginning of January.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said: 'I recognise the strength of feeling on this issue. That is why the regulations were strengthened, to ensure that food advertising to children is appropriate. 

'These figures indicate that the regulations are having a positive impact. We will, of course, continue to keep the issue under review.'

Regulations don't go far enough

Helen McCallum, Communications Director at Which? said: 'These regulations are a good start but they don't go far enough. While we welcome the reductions in the number of unhealthy food adverts that children see, Ofcom's rules don't stop, for example, Coco the Monkey appearing in the middle of The X Factor, one of the most popular shows with children. Although adverts like this are obviously child-focused, they aren't caught by either Ofcom's scheduling restrictions or the industry content rules.

'The Government must now work with the industry to ensure that unhealthy promotions that fall outside these restrictions are covered. Food companies and the advertising industry must tighten their own codes to demonstrate that they are now taking a responsible approach across the board, including on packaging and the Internet.'

You can find out more about TV restrictions for advertising food to children at the Which? Kids' food campaign.

RSS news feeds

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste this link into your newsreader: http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/reviews/news.xml 

SOURCE: Press Association 2008