The UK bans online junk food ads to children; lags behind Quebec but ahead of US and Mexico

Lucy Handley

The U.K. is to ban junk food advertising to children online and through social media channels, its ad regulator announced today.

New rules from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) will ban ads promoting high fat, salt or sugar food and drink to under-16s across online and social media, print and cinema, in a move designed to tackle the U.K.’s increasing obesity problems.

The five to 15 age-group is spending around 15 hours a week online, overtaking time spent watching TV for the first time. Advertising junk food in or around children’s TV shows has been banned in the U.K. since 2006, which the World Health Organization called a “world first”.

While the U.K. has taken anti junk food online advertising measures ahead of countries such as the U.S., it is behind other regions. Quebec banned fast food advertising to children on TV, electronic and print media in 1980, and now the province has the lowest incidence of childhood obesity in Canada.

The U.S., meanwhile, has the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, a voluntary scheme for manufacturers and retailers, aiming to tackle obesity which affects some 12.7 million children and adolescents in the country.

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