New rules ban the advertising of high fat, salt and sugar food and drink products in children’s media

Following a full public consultation, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has today announced tough new rules banning the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food or drink products in children’s media.

The rules, which have been designed to help protect the health and wellbeing of children, will apply across all non-broadcast media including in print, cinema and, crucially, online and in social media.

The rules, which will apply in media targeted at under-16s, will come into effect on 1 July 2017.

In summary:

  • Ads that directly or indirectly promote an HFSS product cannot appear in children’s media
  • Ads for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience
  • Ads for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options
  • The Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS

Responding to the announcement, Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:

“I am delighted that following the publication of draft legislation on the soft drinks industry levy earlier this week, a ban on advertising foods high in salt, sugar and fat in children’s media has now been announced by the Committees of Advertising Practice. This is another positive step forward in the fight to tackle the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity in children, and the damaging health effects of junk food and fizzy drinks.

“Children are influenced a great deal by advertising. There are shows which are not specifically targeted at children, that draw in thousands of children every week, and often have fast food adverts shown multiple times over the course of the broadcast. With over a fifth of children in the UK overweight or obese when they start primary school and a third by the time they reach year six, surely it is time for Government to strengthen rules around all advertising, and in particular ban the advertising of foods high in salt, sugar and fat on television before the 9pm watershed.”