Junk food ads aired during prime-time television shows popular with children such as Britain’s Got Talent, Hollyoaks and the X Factor could themselves be junked following a manifesto pledge by Labour.
If elected the party has promised to establish a £250m per year fund as part of a multi-pronged strategy to promote a healthy lifestyle amongst the young that will also include investment in school nurses as well as the putative ad ban.
Products high in fat, salt or sugar already face tight restrictions on promotion during programmes aimed exclusively at children but campaigners have long complained that this allows brands to take advantage of a loophole in the law by switching advertising to popular shows broadcast prior to the 9pm watershed.
Shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: “Evidence shows the link between deprivation and poor health in childhood, so with child poverty on the rise, the need for action becomes more acute. The UK has one of the worst childhood obesity rates in western Europe. Tooth decay is the single most common reason why children aged five to nine require admission to hospital. Around 13% of boys and 10% of girls aged 11-15 have mental health problems.”
Labour calculate that the measure would reduce viewing of junk food adverts by children by as much as 82% and help to halve the number of overweight children over the next decade.