Photo: Kid Around Magazine
Childhood obesity is a major issue in countries across the world, with advertising of junk food targeted to kids often cited as a huge driver of this epidemic. The UK has just taken a strong stance against this type of advertising.
Their Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) just announced a complete ban on advertising foods that are high in fat, salt, and/or sugar (known as HFSS foods). This ban, scheduled to begin July 1st of next year, includes traditional advertising methods, like television commercials, product placement in movies/TV shows, and print advertising.
What’s huge for this particular ban, however, is that it also includes online and social media advertising of HFSS foods. This comes in response to research that children are spending more time on the internet than on TV for the first time in history.
A summation of what the rules exactly entail are as follows, according to the CAP’s website:
Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media
Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience
Ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options
The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS
While junk food advertising has been banned in UK’s children show’s for around a decade, but online advertising bans are definitely a new angle. Quebec is one of the few other countries to have already banned electronic advertising of junk foods – and has the lowest childhood obesity rate in all of Canada.
In comparison, the U.S. has voluntary initiatives, like the Child’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, that companies can undertake to pledge to not advertise to specific age groups. No hard bans exist on this advertising, however, which may be a reason why the United States has one of the world’s fastest-growing rates in childhood obesity.
Maybe we could take a lesson or two from our friends across the pond.