'Junk food ad ban not enough'

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

The advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) during children's TV programming (up to 6pm) is to be banned from September.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has also decided to restrict the advertising of these foods during general programming after 6pm.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says the new restrictions do not go far enough.

The BAI said that from September 2, commercial communications for HFSS food (including drinks) shall not be permitted in children’s programmes.

In addition, content restrictions will apply to commercial communications for HFSS food broadcast outside of children’s programmes but which are directed at children. The BAI has ruled that such advertising should not:

* Include celebrities or sports stars.
* Include programme characters.
* Include characters and personalities from cinema releases.
* Contain health or nutrition claims.
* Include promotional offers.

In addition, no more than 25% of advertising time and only one in four advertisements for HFSS food will be allowed to be transmitted across the broadcast day on radio and television services.

BAI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe said that despite restrictions on cheese advertising being included in the draft code, there are to be no restrictions on cheese promotion under the final code.

The Irish Heart Foundation expressed major concern that the BAI did not ban the advertising of junk foods and sugary drinks until 9pm in order to protect children and young people.

Maureen Mulvihill, Head of Health Promotion at the Foundation, Maureen Mulvihill said the BAI decision put commercial interests ahead of the health of our children by failing to enforce a ban on advertising of unhealthy foods to children until 9pm.

"Ireland had an opportunity to learn from the UK example which did not go far enough with a ban until 7pm and in fact, a recent study from the University of Newcastle showed that UK children see as many ads for foods high in fat, sugar and salt HFSS foods now as before the restrictions were introduced because many of these commercial communications were simply moved to adult programming watched by children."

The Irish Heart Foundation stressed that the latest ban until 6pm excludes prime time viewing, when on average the most popular time for children (4 to 17 year olds) to watch television is between the hours of 6pm and 9pm

It pointed out that over half of Irish children watched adult programmes without parental supervision.





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