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United front against junk food advertising

Which? and 23 organisations demand 9pm watershed


Which? and 23 other organisations have written to broadcast regulator Ofcom demanding a 9pm watershed on the television advertising of unhealthy food to children.

Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, the National Union of Teachers, Diabetes UK and the National Family and Parenting Institute are among those who have added their signature and given their support.

Ofcom is due to make a decision this autumn on television advertising restrictions to children.

Which? research shows four out of five voters agree that TV adverts for unhealthy food should not be shown during the times children are most likely to be watching TV.

Irresponsible advertising

Which? Chief Policy Adviser, Sue Davies, said: ‘Advertising has a proven effect on children’s food choices. Ofcom’s proposed restrictions are inadequate as they fail to cover the time when most children are actually watching TV.

‘Irresponsible advertising on TV is an uninvited guest in our homes, contributing to the growing national obesity crisis. Without effective action from Ofcom, all efforts to improve the diet and health of children will be undermined.’

In February, Which? looked at a snapshot of ITV1 viewing figures for two weeks and found far more children aged nine and under watch TV in the evening than specific children’s programmes. 

For the four to nine year age group, the most popular programmes were Dancing on Ice, Coronation Street and Emmerdale. 

Health before profit

But under Ofcom’s proposed measures food companies would still be able to place adverts for unhealthy foods during breaks in these programmes.

Sue Davies added: ‘Sadly it is only the broadcast and advertising industries who continue to oppose a 9pm watershed. We urge Ofcom to put children’s health before profit.’

Ofcom yesterday published its consumer research into regulating TV advertising of food and drink to children.

Which? Campaign Team Leader Miranda Watson said: ‘Ofcom’s own research shows that consumers do not think the current proposals to restrict television advertising of junk food to children go far enough.

‘It is unfortunate that Ofcom did not explicitly ask people to consider a 9pm watershed as Which? research shows this is the only way to protect children when they are most likely to be actually watching TV.

‘Ofcom must now respond to public demand and introduce a 9pm watershed.’

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