UK: Junk food ads 'will still target children'

Adverts during the television shows most watched by youngsters will not be covered by new restrictions, a consumer group warned today.

Adverts during the television shows most watched by youngsters will not be covered by new restrictions, a consumer group warned today.

Commercials for food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar cannot contain anything which would appeal to or mislead under-15s.

The new content rules which come into force tomorrow were developed by the regulator Ofcom in response to rising levels of childhood obesity.

But consumer group Which? said the controls would not affect commercials during TV shows most popular with youngsters.

This is because Ofcom designed the new rules to apply to adverts during shows watched mainly by under 15s rather than adults.

Which? said many TV shows with lots of child viewers had slipped through the net.

These include Coronation Street, Emmerdale, The Bill, This is Your Life, Heartbeat and Trinny and Susannah Undress.

Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies said: “The new controls will clearly fail children as none of the programmes with the highest viewing figures for four to 15 year olds are covered.

“This leaves food companies free to broadcast adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar at the times when they know the most children will be watching.”

Which? is calling for a post-9pm ban on commercials for food and drink high in fat, salt or sugar.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said: “Given that between 6pm and 9pm there are nine adults watching the commercial public service channels for every child under 16, a 9pm watershed ban would clearly have an effect on many more adults than children.”

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