Junk food advertising contributes to how, and what, children eat everyday, making it difficult for them to make the healthy choice. New rules on junk food advertising to children are to be announced on Thursday 8th December 2016 by the Committee on Advertising Practice. These new rules follow a consultation process undertaken earlier this year. We welcome this step to introduce further regulation which will restrict advertising online, in cinemas and in print material.
However, it is concerning that there appears to be a number of loopholes, similar to those we have seen in TV advertising, which will mean a significant number of children will continue to be exposed to advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
We are concerned that the new restrictions only apply when it can be shown that at least 25% of the audience are children. We know that many younger children access popular social media sites despite the “official” age restrictions yet the demographics show that the majority of social media users are not children, thereby creating an unnecessary loophole. We will need to see the details to ensure this is not the case.
Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said “ Children aged 5-15 can spend up to 15 hours a week online so we are delighted to see steps to protect them from junk food advertising. However, the new proposals only go part way towards tackling the relentless exposure to junk food our children face. By including a condition that at least 25% of an audience must consist of children, many popular social media sites and other sources of advertising will not be covered.
With one in four children in Scotland overweight or obese we need effective measures to protect our children’s health. Junk food advertising must be tackled as a matter of urgency.”