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Television Food Advertising (Children)

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

The Government are committed to tackling childhood obesity and to supporting parents’ efforts to reduce the exposure of children to advertising of foods high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS). We have worked closely with Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority to significantly tighten the rules on broadcast food promotion to children.

Ofcom announced in November 2006 that it would begin to phase in restrictions on the advertising of HFSS foods to children. This began on 1 April 2007, and the final phase will be introduced on 1 January 2009. When making this announcement, Ofcom committed to reviewing the impact of the restrictions in late 2008. The Government subsequently asked Ofcom to bring forward that review to begin in July 2008. Ofcom has now published its review and copies have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government welcome Ofcom’s report and the progress made to date which has shown that the restrictions introduced have already had a significant impact on reducing children’s exposure to broadcast HFSS food advertising.

Ofcom estimates that the amount of HFSS advertising on television seen by children aged 4 to15 fell by an estimated 34 per cent. over the review period. For younger children, the estimated reduction was greater, at 39 per cent.; for older children, slightly less, at 28 per cent.

Ofcom has committed to further review the effects of the full HFSS restrictions in early 2010.