JUNK food adverts will be banned before the 9pm TV watershed under a government drive to tackle childhood obesity.
Ministers have decided tougher action is vital to halt the barrage of unhealthy grub promotions aimed at kids.
Unhealthy ads seen by children on TV and social media are fuelling the obesity crisis, experts say
Telly ads for food high in fat, sugar or salt are already prohibited around programmes that are watched by under-16s.
But new rules to be unveiled this week will go much further – extending the ban until 9pm and slapping restrictions on social media.
The crackdown comes as research shows children spend 14 hours a week watching TV and an increasing amount of time online.
Last year they were exposed to 3.6 BILLION telly ads for food containing high levels of fat, sugar or salt last year and 700 million on the internet.
Campaigners are also concerned about the increasingly creative tactics used by digital marketeers to lure children in.
These include using social media influencers and YouTube personalities to encourage kids to play online “games” developed by junk food producers.
One in three children is overweight or obese – and the number is on the rise.
The NHS predicts that a further 1,000 children a year will be treated for complications caused by weight problems, including diabetes, heart conditions and poor mental health.
Public health minister Steve Brine said the new restrictions would help parents and children make healthier choices, limit pester power and reduce cancer risk in future generations.
He said: “It is not right that our children are so widely and easily exposed to adverts for promoting these foods.
Obesity is a common problem in the UK that’s estimated to affect around one in every five children aged ten to 11 year olds
“Small amounts of excess calories every day over a long time cause obesity and all the associated health concerns.
“There is no one solution, so our world leading plan is about action across a range of areas so we tackle childhood obesity from every possible angle.”
The ban on ads between kids’ programmes only drove advertisers to target the 6pm to 9pm family viewing time, when children’s viewing peaked.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health problems that our country faces.
“With children spending more time online, it’s vital that we look at all options to help us take action and improve the health of the nation – whether through increasing participation in sport, promoting healthy living through our media or through advertising.
Childhood obesity is one of the biggest health problems that our country facesCulture Secretary Jeremy Wright
“The UK already has some of the toughest advertising restrictions in the world, but it is only right that we consult on further action on TV and online advertising for products that are high in fat, salt or sugar as part of our approach to tackling childhood obesity.”
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who lost seven stone and reversed type two diabetes, said: “The UK is in the grip of an obesity crisis, and we must take action to protect our children’s health. Restricting junk food advertising has got to be part of that.
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“We cannot allow new restrictions on TV advertising to result in adverts flooding to other platforms, like online, where regulation is less robust. We need multimedia advertising reform. For the sake of the future generation’s health, we can’t afford to get this wrong.”
Dame Parveen Kumar, of the British Medical Association, said: “The current restrictions on advertising of unhealthy foods during children’s daytime TV programmes are no longer fit for purpose.
“Young people’s viewing extends well beyond these parameters, including family-oriented programmes and viewing content online . A 9pm watershed on TV, and equivalent protection online, is crucial to limit the amount of marketing children and young people are exposed to and influenced by.”
Six famous faces become guinea pigs in an extreme scientific experiment to find out what our junk food lifestyle is actually doing to us