News / Children's Food Campaign

Sustain's alternative advertising standards

Whilst the new advertising standards restricting junk food marketing to children, are good in sentiment, they are lacking in detail. Our Children's Food Campaign has put forward 10 points that would have filled this gap. 

The alternative definition we proposed of what constitutes having “particular appeal to children” is a 10-point checklist which is taken from individual examples in the Advertising Standards Authority’s own rulings (but never sadly codified):
1) Tie-ins with films and TV programmes popular with children
2) Cartoons and cartoon-like imagery
3) Child-friendly characters
4) Colourful and exaggerated style
5) Images of children
6) Characters which children aspire to be
7) Music / artists popular with children
8) Simple game play, or games with names appealing to children
9) Downloadable games / ringtones / screensavers
10) ‘childlike’ or child-appealing ad wording

This checklist is what we would like all advertisers to adhere too, and is a stronger and more transparent definition for parents to understand. In addition, there is a more comprehensive approach that this could be added to, and which is being used or advocated in countries as diverse as Australia, Brazil, Canada, and Chile; and recommended by an emerging consensus of academics and public health professionals.
Essentially, to be approved the HFSS marketing communication must not:
  • Be designed in a way that appeals to children.
  • Be broadcast or distributed in a place where, or at a time when children are normally reached.
Marketing communications run more risk of being considered at directed at children:
  • The more the goods appeal to them.
  • The more childlike the content of the communications is.
  • The more the place or means of broadcast or distribution is likely to increase the odds of reaching children

Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.

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