Child-Targeted Junk Foods Ads Decline in UK

15 October 2008

LONDON: The number of junk food ads targeted specifically at children fell by 41% in the UK between 2003 and 2007, with TV posting a steep decline as press, online and radio registered double-digit increases, reports the country's Department of Health.

According to the DoH, advertisers spent some £103m ($180m; €132m) on junk food ads aimed at children in 2003, such as those featuring characters like Tony the Tiger, tie-ups with films and children's TV shows, and free toys.

In 2007, that total was £61m, with ads for fast food (–71%), confectionery (–62%), non-alcoholic drinks (–52%) and cereals (–37%) all down. 

TV also saw a 46% reduction in junk food ads targeted at children, from a value of just under £100m in 2003 to £55m in 2007.

By contrast, child-specific ads increased by 42% in the press over the same period, and by 11% across online, cinema and radio.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "I am pleased that there are now fewer ads on TV that are tempting our children into bad eating habits.

"But we must keep our eye on other types of media. I hope the industry will continue to play its part in reducing the exposure that children have to the promotion of food which is high in fat, salt or sugar."

Last year, Ofcom introduced stricter regulations governing the promotion of junk food to children, and the government is to launch a £75m anti-obesity campaign at the start of next year.

Data sourced from Media Guardian; additional content by WARC staff