RCPCH responds to calls for a ban on junk food adverts "on demand"

Health campaigners are calling for the restrictions on junk food television advertising to be extended to on-demand services. New analysis from the OHA has found that children streaming their favourite shows online are inundated with adverts for unhealthy food and drinks. RCPCH respond to these calls.

The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is calling for the existing restrictions on junk food advertising to be extended to programmes broadcast before the 9pm watershed - both when watched on live TV or if viewing subsequently via on-demand services.

Family TV shows are amongst the most watched shows by children aged 4-15. With over half of 8-11-year olds and two thirds of 12-15-year olds regularly watching television on other devices, it is likely that they are also watching these shows on-demand.

When viewing the Britain's Got Talent final via ITV Hub, almost one in four adverts were for food and drink high in salt, sugar and fat. This increased to one in three when programme sponsorship "idents" were excluded.

Responding to calls for a ban of junk food adverts ‘on demand,’ Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Promotion for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:

“Food manufacturers market their products at children because they know it leads to an increase in sales. However with one in three children overweight or obese by the time they start secondary school, and advertising being one of the contributing causes, it is only right that a ban on advertising of products high in salt, sugar and fat, is put in place before 9pm on television and for on demand broadcasts regardless of the time they watch.

“We know that advertising alone won’t combat this country’s obesity problem so therefore want Government to go one step further. If habits are to change, we need to instil positive behaviours early by teaching children about the importance of nutrition and other healthy behaviours though Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE) lessons. These lessons, which must be statutory and delivered by trained staff, have the power to change the mindset of a generation and their health outcomes.”