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10 Jun

All In Summit

AA’s statement on HFSS Advertising to children

/ January 21st 2019
High Fat, Salt & Sugar Advertising

“The recent launch by Jamie Oliver of his campaign for further restrictions on advertising to children and today’s House of Lords debate on childhood obesity by Baroness Walmsley have included a number of inaccurate points regarding the advertising of HFSS food and drink to children. The rules currently in force already ban the advertising of such food or drink products in children’s media. Moreover, the Committees of Advertising Practice carried out a comprehensive review of HFSS advertising to children in 2016 and the codes were reviewed, updated and strengthened last year and the CAP code is now being reviewed one year on from the changes to ensure they remain fit for purpose.

“The changes mean that, rather than being ‘bombarded’ with HFSS advertising as some statements have claimed, the rules considerably limit the exposure of children under 16 to HFSS advertising in any medium – whether on TV, at the cinema, outdoor, on radio, in print or online. Consequently, children’s exposure to HFSS advertising has fallen dramatically since comprehensive advertising restrictions began to be put in place over a decade ago.

“Broadcast media rules have been in place since 2007 and, in 2010, Ofcom evaluated that these rules had led to a 37% decline in exposure to children of HFSS advertising. Between 2011 and 2017, BARB data shows a reduction of 41% of exposure to children of food and drink advertising. Despite this significant reduction, overweight and obesity levels of children in the UK have not changed.

“Further restrictions on the advertising of HFSS food and drink are at odds with research that shows obesity among young people varies significantly across the UK, correlating strongly to areas with increased deprivation. This suggests that effective action must be targeted at local level and that blanket nationwide restrictions across media are not the answer. Such bans will not be effective solutions but will be damaging to commercial media and have an additional impact on the quality of media, content and jobs.

“Ofcom and the Government have described UK advertising rules as already ‘among the strictest in the world’. We know from extensive research that further regulations, such a pre-watershed advertising ban, are not effective answers to the challenge Government faces – as numerous Ofcom reviews have previously concluded. These are analogue solutions in a digital age.”

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