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Junk food ad ban success questioned

Which? says curbs don't go far enough


Which? has questioned advertising industry claims that kids are watching fewer junk food adverts.

The Advertising Association says that the number of TV adverts for food, drink and fast-food restaurants watched by four- to nine-year-olds is down by more than a quarter compared with 2006 figures.

This follows new curbs on commercials for products high in fat, salt or sugar during TV shows aimed at this age group.

These curbs will be extended to cover TV shows aimed at children from the age of four up to 15 years – or shows of particular appeal to that age group – from the start of next year.

Advertising curbs

But Which? believes these advertising restrictions aren’t doing enough to protect children, because the programmes most watched by children aren’t covered by the restrictions.

Research in June, for our Kids’ Food campaign, found that just seven out of the top 50 programmes most popular among under-16s will be covered by the restrictions.

That’s because the restrictions are based on the proportion of children watching the programme rather than the actual number.

Coronation Street

For example, Which? research showed that while Avatar: The Legend of Aang, would be covered by the restrictions, Coronation Street, with more than five times the number of viewers under 16, would not.

Which? chief policy advisor Sue Davies said: ‘While there have been some steps in the right direction, advertisers remain free to promote unhealthy foods during the TV programmes with the highest number of child viewers and there is still very little regulation of non-broadcast marketing.’

Which? is one of several groups calling for a pre-9pm ban on all TV commercials for unhealthy food and drinks.

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