Sheffield health and nutrition experts praise new ban on children’s junk food adverts

Health and nutrition experts in Sheffield have today welcomed a new rule banning the advertisement of junk food in children’s media. The move, which will come into play next summer, aims to reduce obesity, and increase overall levels of health and nutrition in young people.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) are responsible for the ruling after months of pressure from the public and various health organisations. Online platforms including YouTube will be targeted, as well as apps and social media sites, along with children’s magazines and cinema.

It’s welcome news for many in Sheffield; the latest government Health Profile for the city found that just under 20% of year 6 children were obese.

A step in the right direction

Jo Herchberg, founder of Sheffield’s two Real Junk Food Project cafés and school scheme Fuel for Schools said she thought the ruling was “a great step in the right direction.”

“The fact that these adverts will no longer appear online will help parents to educate their children as to which foods are best for them. Organisations like ourselves are always in favour of any move to teach children- and adults- about real food and why it is so important.”

However, ads will still be allowed to run during TV programmes that appeal to both adults and children, such as entertainment shows and soaps.

Professor Robert Copeland of the National Centre for Sport & Exercise Medicine, and The Centre of Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University has expressed support for the ruling, calling it “part of the solution, and a welcome step.” However, he remains cautious as to just how effective it will be in its current form.

“I think the ruling is a positive one, providing it goes far enough; it’s not necessarily children that make the decision when it comes to purchasing. This ruling needs to be part of a whole system of change, including physical activity, that makes it easier for people to make healthier choices.”

Similar ruling made in 2007

Broadcasting regulators Ofcom made a similar ruling back in 2007. Advertisements aired during television programmes aimed at under-16s that featured food high in fat, sugar and salt were banned. 

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Shahriar Coupal, Director of CAP, said: “Our rules will eliminate high sugar product ads from children’s media, and media where adults comprise up to 75% of the audience. We don’t feel it necessary to push that figure up to 90% or ban these adds entirely.”

The new ruling comes into force next summer, on the 1st July 2017.