Over 30,000 people sign petition to ban junk food adverts before 9pm watershed

The Children's Food Campaign and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) have delivered a 30,000 strong petition to 10 Downing Street calling for a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm. The petition also urged the Government to take wider action to tighten advertising regulations and protect children.

In addition, new statistics show the majority of UK parents believe stopping children being exposed to junk food adverts could cut childhood obesity. The BHF polled 2,000 UK parents and found 60% of parents believe that stopping children being exposed to junk food adverts could help towards tackling the obesity crisis in children. [1] 

Almost seven in ten (69%) parents polled feel the UK Government should introduce stricter regulations on the food industry to better control how junk food is advertised to children. Six in ten parents (60%) say that adverts promoting foods that are high in saturated fat, salt and sugar affect what their children want to eat. Well over half (58%) say junk food adverts make it harder for them to say no to their children or get them to eat healthily.

Around 30% of children in the UK are overweight or obese, increasing their risk of being overweight and developing coronary heart disease in later life. [2] Research by The Food Standards Agency has found that TV marketing of food and drink products can influence children’s food preferences. [3] 

Yet loopholes in the UK regulatory system mean that junk food adverts which are banned during children’s programming can still be shown during family programming, such as X-Factor, when children’s TV viewing peaks. [4]

Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children's Food Campaign:

"Restricting products high in fat, salt or sugar from being advertised before the 9pm watershed would be a simple, effective and popular move; at one stroke removing this advertising from all the shows on commercial TV most watched by children. The petition we have just delivered to Downing Street, together with the new polling, show that the public is firmly behind measures to close the loopholes which currently allow junk food and sugary snacks and drinks to be marketed to children. The onus is now on the next Govenment to take the necessary action."

Mike Hobday, Director of Policy at the British Heart Foundation:

“Junk food companies are exploiting legal loopholes in the regulatory system, allowing them to continue bombarding children with junk food adverts. By protecting young people against the sophisticated marketing techniques of junk food advertisers we can help tackle the obesity crisis which threatens the heart health of future generations. We urge the UK Government to heed the public’s clear call and take immediate action.”



Organisations supporting this campaign to restrict junk food marketing to children include: British Heart Foundation, the Children’s Food Campaign, the Faculty of Public Health, the department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the British Dental Association, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Health Equalities Group, Heart of Mersey, the Family and Childcare Trust, the UK Health Forum, the Association for the Study of Obesity.

[1] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from One Poll. Total sample size was 2,000 parents with children aged between 5 and 16 years old. Fieldwork was undertaken between 13th and 18th March 2015.The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK parents (aged 18+).

[2] UK estimate based on latest ONS statistics

[3] Hastings et al (2003) “Review of the research on the effects of food promotion to children.‟ Food Standards Agency.  

[4] Whelan R, Boyland E (2014) ‘Analysis of food adverts shown during a sample of primetime television.’ (pdf

The BHF:

For over 50 years BHF have pioneered research that’s transformed the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions. Our work has been central to the discoveries of vital treatments that are changing the fight against heart disease. But so many people still need our help. Around 30% of children are overweight or obese which is putting them at risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the future. We are proud to fund the Children’s Food Campaign to help us reduce the number of overweight and obese children in the UK. For more information visit bhf.org.uk.


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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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