The government has launched a consultation proposing to restrict TV and online adverts for food and drink that is high in fat, sugar or salt that children are exposed to.
The restrictions being considered, as part of efforts to tackle childhood obesity, include a 9pm watershed ban on TV, online streaming sites and social media.
Data shows children are spending many hours each week watching television and an increasing amount of time online, said a joint statement from the Department of Health and Social Care and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
In 2017, it is estimated that children were exposed to more than 700 million online adverts for junk food and almost 3.6 billion TV adverts.
Exposure levels on TV have fallen significantly since restrictions around children’s programmes were introduced 10 years ago, but there remains a significant amount of exposure, added the statement.
“It is not right that our children are so widely and easily exposed to adverts promoting foods high in fat, sugar and salt. Small amounts of excess calories every day over a long time causes obesity and all the associated health concerns. We are, however, clear: there is no one solution, so our world-leading plan is about joined-up action across a range of areas so we tackle childhood obesity from every possible angle,” said Steve Brine, Public Health Minister.
The proposals would target foods that contribute most to children’s intake of calories. The restrictions would not apply to everyday staples like butter, oil or meat.
As part of the consultation, the government will consider the impact that further advertising restrictions may have on business, particularly broadcasters.