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Snacks brands face UK ban on online and outdoor ads aimed at children

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By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

May 13, 2016 | 3 min read

The likes of McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Cadbury could soon be prevented from using billboards, posters or digital ads to target children if new guidelines around junk food marketing are implemented.

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The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which sets codes of practice for all media ads in the UK except TV or radio spots, has launched a consultation which seeks to limit advertising to children food and drink products which are high in fat, salt and sugar.

The proposals will explore whether junk food ads should be banned from media aimed towards children aged 12 to 16-years-old and will be informed by "an understanding of the costs that would emerge from a failure to address the obesity crisis affecting the UK," according to CAP.

James Best, chairman of the committee said: "Too many children in the UK are growing up overweight or even obese, potentially damaging their health in later life and imposing a high cost on society."

"Advertising is just one small factor in a very complex equation but we believe we can play a positive part in addressing an urgent societal challenge. In proposing new rules, our aim is to strike the right balance between protecting children and enabling businesses to continue advertising their products responsibly," he added.

As well as considering new guidelines, CAP is looking to allow more creative ways for healthier foods to be advertised to kids by relaxing rules around the use of licensed characters for promotional reasons.

Ofcom has had a blanket ban in place on junk food ads around children's TV programming for 10 years. Today's news comes amid a growing public and political debate around sugar, and the responsibility of brands to promote healthier lifestyles.

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