Junk food ads are likely to be banned from online kids’ shows in the U.K. In remarks published on Sunday by the Daily Mirror, Guy Parker, the head of the country’s Advertising Standards Authority, said revised guidelines could close a loophole that bans HFSS (high fat sugar and salt) food ads from being shown around children’s programs on TV, but not on the internet. (The ban on HFSS ads during TV shows appealing to the under-16 crowd dates back to 2007.)
Parker underscored this change could be necessary because children were increasingly watching more kids’ shows like Peppa Pig on the internet. Public consultations on the proposed ban will begin soon, before the summer.
Across all of England, 9.1% of children aged 4-5 were classed as obese in 2014-15, although in some poorer areas that figure was over 13%.
And the U.K. isn’t the only country to target junk food. Blouin News recently reported on South Africa’s upcoming sugar tax, which will follow Mexico’s lead in taxing sweetened sugar beverages.
These measures are commendable, and will deliver major health benefits down the road. Spending by Britain’s National Health Service on obesity-related costs is rising, and is at nearly 10% of its total budget.
However, the government has delayed formulating its national childhood obesity strategy until the summer, and activists are worried it won’t go far enough. “To help prevent thousands of cancer cases we want a ban on junk food ads during family viewing times, a sugary drinks tax and more sugar taken out of food,” said Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research U.K. London should deliver on all counts.