Reports Children's Food Campaign

The 21st century gingerbread house - how companies are marketing junk food to children online

This joint report from the Children's Food Campaign (CFC) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF) reveals the manipulative tactics junk food manufacturers use to hook children while they play online and entice them to eat foods loaded with fat, salt and sugar.


The report assesses how junk food manufacturers bombard kids online in a bid to push these unhealthy products.  The CFC and BHF are calling for consistent advertising regulations across all forms of media to protect children and their future health.

All the brands featured in the report are products which are high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS).  Advertisements for these products can’t be shown during children’s television programmes because they fail the Food Standards Agency and Ofcom nutrient profiling test.  Yet due to a loophole in advertising regulations, companies are allowed to market these products and brands freely via the internet.

The key online tactics of food manufacturers include:

  • Bespoke websites which appeal to children through the use of language intended for, spoken by or directly to children.
  • Brand characters, cartoons and animations which are enormously popular with children.
  • Free gifts including apps, downloads, ringtones and games of appeal to children.
  • The use of social networking sites as a way to encourage children to share the brand with their friends.



What’s the problem?

The advertising rules

What we did

What we found

The Tactics

  • Krave -
  • Cheestrings -
  • Nesquick -
  • Sugar Puffs -
  • Capri-Sun -
  • Rowntree -
  • Chupa Chups -
  • Cadburys Buttons -

What needs to happen


The 21st century gingerbread house - how companies are marketing junk food to children online
2011 | 2000Kb


Published Friday 18 November 2011

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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