Children in the UK being exposed to up to a dozen junk food ads per-hour on TV according to a new study analyzing the preponderance of adverts promoting foods which are high in fat, sugar and salt.
Health experts have expressed alarm at the Liverpool University findings which show that children as young as four were digesting high volumes of content promoting confectionery, fast food and fizzy drinks while watching popular shows such as Hollyoaks and The Simpsons.
The study found that a single episode of The Voice broadcast on ITV was seen by 708,500 children and was stuffed with no less than 12 ads for high-sugar foods; including McVitie’s, Domino’s and Anchor butter.
Commenting on the findings prof Mary Fewtrell, nutrition lead at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “This report is another grim reminder why we’re losing the fight against the scourge of childhood obesity,”
“Children are very impressionable and need protection from the hundreds of millions of pounds spent each year on junk food advertising, much of which is within the family viewing hours of 6 to 9pm.”
Campaigners have warned that a loophole in the current law allows advertisers to target junk food ads at programmes predominantly aimed at adults, even if they are watched by many under the age of 18.
The government has ruled out any change in the law however, siding with broadcasters in agreeing that existing rules are sufficiently robust.
Online ads for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar aimed at children were recently slapped with a tough new ban from the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).