Junk food marketing to children

Children watching TV

Promotions for unhealthy processed foods and drinks are undermining efforts to encourage children to follow a heart healthy diet.

We want to see consistent regulations across all forms of media to protect children and TV adverts for unhealthy products to be screened after 9pm.

Closing the loopholes

Our report, The 21st Century Gingerbread House, reveals the tactics companies are using to market to our children online. The current regulatory system for non-broadcast advertising – including online and in magazines and posters – is weak. 

The rules are vague and don't distinguish between healthy and unhealthy products. They also fail to cover a number of common marketing techniques that are targeted at children. For example, brand characters, brand marketing, and product packaging featuring games and competitions are not included in the regulations.

Restrictions on TV advertising for unhealthy products during children’s television programmes have reduced the number of junk food advertisements children see. But marketers can still advertise unhealthy products during some of the most popular television programmes watched by children such as X-Factor and Britain’s Got Talent, because these programmes are classed as family programmes.

Our calls to Government

  • To protect children the UK Government should introduce consistent regulations across all forms of media, which cover all advertising techniques and distinguish between healthy and unhealthy products. 
  • All television advertisements for unhealthy products should be screened after the 21:00 watershed. 
  • To establish an independent regulator.

To find out about our campaign or for more information please read our campaign page, our policy statement or email policy@bhf.org.uk.