Online Adverts Promoting Unhealthy Foods to Kids Banned in United Kingdom

The National Law Review

From 1 July 2017, non-broadcast adverts for high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) foods aimed at children will be banned in the UK. The ban is a response to concern about the escalating problem of childhood obesity. Current estimates are that a third of children in the UK are obese.

The ban will be introduced by an amendment to the CAP Code. From 1 July, adverts that directly or indirectly promote a HFSS product will not be allowed to appear in any non-broadcast children’s media. This covers magazines, cinema, websites, video-sharing sites, advergames and social media platforms explicitly directed at, or with content strongly oriented towards, children under the age of 16.

A similar ban on HFSS adverts is already in place for broadcast advertising, including television adverts. The extension of the ban to the non-broadcast environment is an attempt to track with the changing media habits of children. Research by OFCOM found that children aged 5-15 years spend around 15 hours each week online, now significantly exceeding the time spent watching television.

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