Children’s exposure to TV advertising of food and drink

Since 2007 it has not been permitted to advertise food and drink that is high in fat, salt or sugar during children’s television programmes. Evidence from Ofcom suggests that in 2016 children spent 64% of their viewing time watching programmes outside children’s programming. Recent discussion around the possibility of a second wave of the Government’s childhood obesity strategy has included calls from health campaigners and leaders of all the main opposition parties to extend current restrictions on when food and drink products that are high in fat, salt or sugar can be advertised to cover all pre-watershed advertising. In a new briefing note, IFS researchers show that half of the television advertising for food and drink that children saw in 2015 was for products that are high in fat, sugar or salt or for restaurants and bars (the majority of which are fast food outlets), and that a large portion of this advertising takes place prior to the watershed.

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