British Heart Foundation action on junk food marketing to children

Parents’ efforts to help their children eat healthily are being undermined by sophisticated promotions for unhealthy foods on TV and online – these adverts are exploiting loopholes in advertising regulations. The British Heart Foundation is leading a campaign, 'Action on Junk Food Marketing', to urge the UK Government to introduce stronger regulations to stop companies from advertising unhealthy foods directly to children.

Junk food marketing to children has become more sophisticated than ever. Loopholes in the rules governing online and TV marketing mean that they're not up to the job of protecting our children. Marketing plays a role in influencing children's dietary choices. In the UK, around 30 per cent of children are overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk of developing serious health problems later in life, including coronary heart disease.

  • Children’s TV viewing peaks between eight and nine pm, but laws created to protect children from junk food adverts don’t typically cover this period.  
  • Rules covering online marketing are vague and don't distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods, making it easier to advertise unhealthy products online and harder for the public to fight back through complaints.
  • The current system for online marketing is self-regulatory, the food industry are involved in developing and enforcing the rules.

The campaign is aiming for 

  • A ban on junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed.
  • A distinction between healthy and unhealthy foods written into rules covering online marketing.
  • Tighter regulation for online marketing of junk foods. New rules should be written, monitored and enforced by an independent body. 

To find out more about junk food marketing download the campaign briefing.
To support this campaign you can sign the petition to close down loopholes and create a system that protects children from junk food marketing.

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