UK children being exposed to junk food ads on TV because companies have found a way around restrictions via family viewing exemption, health campaigners warn; foods high in sugar, fat, salt banned from being advertised in UK on children's programming

LONDON , March 21, 2014 () – CHILDREN are being exposed to junk food adverts on TV because companies such as KFC have found a way around the restrictions, health campaigners warn.

Foods high in sugar, fat and salt are banned from being advertised around programmes that are specifically for children.

But family viewing is exempt – even though peak time shows such as Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, The X Factor, The Simpsons, and Hollyoaks have millions of young viewers.

Doctors, the British Heart Foundation, and the Children’s Food Campaign want ads for unhealthy foods to be banned before the 9pm watershed and are calling for curbs on internet marketing.

An analysis of 750 TV adverts found almost one in four shown between 8pm and 9pm was for food. Viewers were bombarded with as many as 11 junk food adverts per hour, according to researchers from Liverpool University. The most frequently shown were unhealthy products from supermarkets such as Aldi and Morrisons, fast-food chains such as KFC and sweet companies including Lindt and Haribo.

Figures show that children’s TV viewing peaks around 8pm, but regulations created to protect them do not cover this time.

The researchers said food adverts seem aimed at the young, with nearly a third shown between 8pm and 9pm having a fun theme. Over half featured children or child-aged characters and a third carried a website address or Twitter hashtag.

BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie said: ‘Parents don’t expect their children to be bombarded with ads for unhealthy food. We want the Government to protect children by switching off junk food adverts on TV until after 9pm.’

Professor Mitch Blair, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: ‘Not only are children and young people easily influenced... but food companies wouldn’t spend huge amounts of money if it wasn’t effective.’

© Daily Mail

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