A report compiled by researchers at Newcastle University has revealed that children are being exposed to more TV ads for junk food since the introduction of new regulations. In 2007, new regulations were introduced by Ofcom to prevent foods which have high levels of sugar, fat and salt being displayed during the hours when children’s programmes were being aired on TV. The new regulations were one of a number of measures introduced to reduce childhood obesity levels. However, the report states that the ads for junk food which are being viewed by children have increased to 7 percent from the previous figure of 6.1 percent.
The researchers studied TV ads for six months before the introduction of the new regulations in 2007 and again for six months in 2009, when the regulations were fully in place. The study looked at the “nutritional content” of advertisements shown during this period. Researchers discovered that 14.6 percent of the TV ads promoted food products, but half the ads were for foods high in sugar, fat and salt like sugary cereals, sugary drinks and crisps. Although the companies were abiding by the new regulations and restricting ads shown when kid’s programmes were on TV, children watch TV at other times and are exposed to the junk food ads.
A Public Health lecturer at Newcastle University, Dr Jean Adams said:
These regulations were brought in to help young people make better lifestyle choices and encourage a healthier diet. However, what they are seeing is exactly the same amount of advertising for food which is high in salt or high in sugar and fat as before the regulations came in.
The report indicates that the amount of unhealthy food products advertised on TV has increased to 60.4 percent from 38.6 percent since the introduction of restrictions by Ofcom. A spokesman for Ofcom points out that exposure to TV ads for junk food during children’s programmes has reduced. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health stated that the restrictions on TV ads along with Change4Life and Responsibility Deal were working towards helping families to make the healthiest choices and give children a good start in life.