Calls for 9pm watershed on advertising of junk food

By June Shannon Policy News   |   17th Oct 2018

Current regulations limiting the marketing of junk food to children not fit for purpose

A recent decision by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) to reject complaints about a fast food outlet sponsoring ‘The Big, Big Movie’ on RTE is evidence that the current regulations limiting the marketing of junk food to children are “not fit for purpose” and a 9pm watershed for the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks should be introduced without delay, the Irish Heart Foundation has said.

In a decision published this week the BAI outlined complaints it received that the sponsorship of the Big Big Movie screenings of the Santa Clause movies (1,2, and 3) and Cinderella by McDonalds was in contravention of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the BAI Children’s Commercial Communications Code which limits the advertising of unhealthy foods to children.

The broadcaster maintained that the Code “does not apply to these broadcasts as they are not Children’s programmes as defined in the Code. The broadcaster also argues that the relevant Commercial Communications are not Children’s Commercial Communications as defined in the Code due to the fact that they are not carried in Children’s Programme and are not promoting products or services that are of particular interest in children.”

The complaints were rejected by the BAI as it stated that the Children’s Commercial Communications Code (“the Code”) did not apply and as undue prominence was not given to any one product, “the product being promoted was not of exclusive interest to children. The Committee did not find that the creative approach could be considered as clearly intended to target children.”

"A 9pm watershed for the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks should be introduced without delay,"

Mr Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy , Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting on the decision to reject the complaints, Mr Chris Macey Head of Advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “The BAI decision that the Big Big Movie screenings of The Santa Clause movies and Cinderella does not constitute children’s programming shows that current regulations are not fit for purpose and a 9pm watershed for the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks should be introduced without delay. Restrictions on junk food advertising on television were introduced five years ago because the need to protect children was recognised. But loopholes such as this mean that the average 3-5-year-old is still seeing more than 1,000 ads for unhealthy food and drinks on TV alone every year.”

The call by the Irish Heart Foundation for a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising was echoed today by Cancer Research UK as it released a new study which found that young children who spent more than half an hour a day online were almost twice as likely to pester their parents for junk food.

The study by researchers from the University of Liverpool and Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Policy Research Centre also revealed that primary school children who spent more than three hours on the web were more than four times more likely to spend their pocket money on chocolate, crisps, sugary drinks and takeaways than their peers who browsed for less than half an hour.

These children were also 79 per cent more likely to be overweight or obese while those who were online between 30 minutes and three hours a day were 53 per cent more likely to be carrying excess weight than those who were online for less.

Young children who spent more than half an hour a day online were almost twice as likely to pester their parents for junk food

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Obese children are five times more likely to remain obese into adulthood and being overweight or obese as an adult increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer and cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke. 

Dr Jyotsna Vohra, head of the Cancer Policy Research Centre at Cancer Research UK, said: “Obesity is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK after smoking so it’s vital we see a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and similar protection for children viewing adverts on-demand and online.

“The evidence suggests that time spent online, where advertising can be prolific, and watching commercial TV increases the likelihood that children will pester for, buy and eat more unhealthy foods. If they didn’t then the food industry wouldn’t spend so much on advertising.”

 

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advertising advertising online childhood obesity junk food kids online advertising online marketing stop targeting kids

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