Family TV saturated with junk food ads

21 March 2014        

Boy on tablet computer

Millions of young people are exposed to ads during primetime TV which are banned from children’s programming.

A new analysis of TV adverts found almost one in four ads shown between eight and nine pm were for food (22%), with viewers seeing as many as eleven junk food adverts per hour.

Nearly a third (31%) of food adverts shown between eight and nine pm use themes of ‘fun’ and over half used children or child-aged characters to promote their food (53%).

Around a third of ads ended with a website or Twitter hashtag - a key way of reaching teenagers.

Our Chief Executive, Simon Gillespie, said: “Parents don’t expect their children to be bombarded with ads for unhealthy food during primetime TV, but that’s exactly what happens.

“Even when the show is over, junk food marketers could be reaching out to young people online. A lack of regulation means companies are free to lure kids into playing games and entering competitions – all with a view to pushing their product.

“We want the Government to protect children by switching off junk food adverts on TV until after 9pm and putting rules in place to stop children becoming fair game for internet marketing.”

A mum's battle

Lyn and Daniyel

Lyn Rodney, whose diabetes diagnosis led to a healthier diet for her and her son, said: “As a busy mum, it’s hard enough to make sure your family eats healthily without seeing ads for junk food wherever you go.

“In the past, unhealthy food became an easy option for me and my son. However, I now know that being overweight may have contributed to my diabetes and I will do everything within my power to stop my son getting the same condition.

“I’m getting behind this call to restrict junk food marketing for the sake of my son and the future health of kids his age.”

Fight back against junk

We've formed Action on Junk Food Marketing to fight back. We want to see ads for unhealthy food pushed back until after 9pm and consistent internet regulation to protect children online.