Children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol, gambling and food/drink products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) has declined in recent years, according to a new report from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The regulatory body said it wanted to establish the actual level of children’s exposure to these types of ads to order to measure the effectiveness and proportionality of current rules that restrict their content and scheduling (the watershed).

Based on data from 2017, the latest year covered by the report, the ASA found that British children see 161.2 TV ads per week and that declining exposure to age-restricted products means just one is for alcohol, 2.8 for gambling and 9.6 for HFSS.

It also means that children’s exposure to all TV ads has declined 29.7% since their exposure reached its peak of 229.3 per week in 2013.

Encouragingly, their exposure to TV ads for alcohol decreased by 62.5% between 2013 and 2017, while gambling ads decreased by 37.3% and HFSS ads by 45.5%, although the ASA said the data on HFSS ads is limited to 2016 and 2017.

“As the TV scheduling rules have not changed over the years covered by the report, other factors, [such as] changes in marketing spend and behaviour, are likely to account for the decline in children’s exposure to these ads,” the report said.

Commenting on the findings, ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “Protecting children has always been at the heart of our regulation. These findings show that in recent years, children’s exposure to TV ads for alcohol, gambling and food and soft drink products high in fat, salt or sugar is declining.

“We’re not complacent though and we’ll continue to actively monitor and report on this important area of work. Our next focus will be to examine whether the rules are working in the same way online and we’ll report on that later in 2019.”

Sourced from Advertising Standards Authority; additional content by WARC staff