UK parents hounded by their kids to buy junk food they see on TV

26 January 2015        

Junk food marketing

Seven in ten (70%) parents have been pestered by their children to buy junk food they have seen advertised on TV, according to a new survey by the British Heart Foundation ahead of Heart Month this February.

The BHF polled over 2,100 UK parents with children aged 16 and under, and found more than two fifths (43%) of those polled say they are badgered by their children at least once a week.

Almost two fifths (39%) of parents surveyed also said they think junk food adverts on TV make it difficult to help their children eat a healthy diet.

The BHF believes that this survey highlights the urgent need to close legal loopholes in the UK’s regulatory system which mean companies are free to promote unhealthy food and drink products to children both online and on TV during popular family TV shows. 

Obesity in children

Around a third of children in the UK are currently overweight or obese. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults, putting them at greater risk of a coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers in later life.

Research by broadcasting regulator Ofcom found television advertising can impact on children’s food preferences, consumption and behaviour, and that younger children in particular cannot distinguish advertising from entertainment.

The BHF is calling for the Government to introduce tighter restrictions online and ban junk food adverts being shown before the 9pm watershed to protect children from making unhealthy choices.

We cannot allow companies to continue exploiting holes in the system at the expense of our children’s health.

Mike Hobday
Director of Policy

Mike Hobday, our Director of Policy, said: “Regulations for TV and online advertising in the UK are weak. Loopholes in the system mean that every day millions of children are exposed to sophisticated marketing techniques specifically designed to lure them into unhealthy eating habits.

“This evidence shows that junk food ads are having a detrimental impact on children’s behaviour and are hindering parents’ efforts to get their children to eat healthily.

“We cannot allow companies to continue exploiting holes in the system at the expense of our children’s health. The Government must act now to help give children a stronger chance at fending off future heart disease.”