Every week, under-16s spend £13 million on snacks and sweets. In January 2008, the BHF's Food4Thought campaign invited children to join us in cyberspace and turn the tables on the junk marketeers. Food4Thought helps make children more aware of the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. But junk food companies are increasingly targeting children to sell their high fat, sugar and salt products.
In 2007, we launched junkmonkeys.tv. Hosted by loud-mouthed Sick Rick, six yucky videos spill the beans on what goes into junk food. It's part of food4thought.bhf.org.uk, an interactive site where children explore a virtual world to expose hidden marketing messages - and win prizes doing it.
Sick Rick's adverts received nearly a million clicks and the website has had more than 700,000 visits. Half the children who saw Food4Thought say they're eating less junk, and some 83% say they're taking more responsibility for their own health. Parents and schools got involved too. 63% of UK schools ordered resources packs to help with healthy lifestyles and unmask the marketeers, while 4,500 parents signed an online petition, and 1,000 wrote to their MP to support MP Nigel Griffiths' Food Products (Marketing to Children) Bill. 82% of parents we asked said more regulation is needed to protect their kids.
John Curran told us: "I think there's a link between advertising and childhood obesity. Parents know how TV ads and marketing on packs work, but they're less aware of digital media - you really need to know what your kids are up to - there's no way we'd let Dexter play on junk food sites."