UK Will Ban Online Junk Food Ads Aimed At Children

In a move to tackle childhood obesity, the UK's Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) said they are going to ban junkfood advertisements online, in print and in cinema.  The announcment was applauded by health activists who have long been campaigning against sugary food and drinks for children. 

Ban Will Be Imposed On All Non-Broadcast Media Ads Targeted At Kids Under Sixteen

Ads that directly or indirectly promote food or drink high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) will be banned from all non-broadcase media, including print, cinema and, crucially, online and social media - or media outlets where children make up more than 25 percent of the audience.

This move is a start, but health organizations said it did not go far enough.   According to the Guardian, cartoon characters and celebrities will be banned from promotional materials but not food packaging, which means they will still be seen on boxes of sugar-rich foods.

Childhood Obesity Is A Major Problem

CAP said childhood obesity is a serious problem in the UK.  "Childhood obesity is a serious and complex issue and one that we're determined to play our part in tackling," CAP chairman, James Best, said.

"These restrictions will significantly reduce the number of ads for high fat, salt or sugar products seen by children. Our tough new rules are a clear demonstration that the ad industry is willing and ready to act on its responsibilities and puts the protection of children at the heart of its work," Best added. 

Action on Sugar campaign manager, Jenny Rosborough, told Independent that the ban should be extended to shows like X Factor, which are hugely popular with children.  "We need to see bans on advertising go further, as they currently do not manage exposure to these adverts during popular family programmes such as the X Factor or Britain's Got Talent," Rosborough said.

In November, the the World Health Organization warned that governments should impose restrictions on  junk food adverts in apps, social media and video blogs aimed at children.  CAP said they are acknowledging the impact of these adverts and that this ban may be a small step but they are demonstrating that they are putting "the protection of children at the heart of its work".

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