The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has released a new report that focuses on restricting junk food marketing to children and provides advice to policy makers.
According to the report, research has shown that seeing 4.4 minutes of food advertising can lead to children eating 60 more calories a day. As little as 46 extra calories each day can lead to excess weight in children. Nutrition is critical during childhood and adolescence, and many of the eating patterns developed by kids during these ages can last into adulthood.
Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance lead, said: “The food industry use a range of marketing techniques to keep the spotlight on their products and evidence shows that children are particularly vulnerable. TV shows and websites popular with children are flooded with adverts for high fat and sugary products and the Government needs to do more to ensure that children are adequately protected. There is overwhelming public support for a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts across all types of media. If we ignore the evidence and calls for stronger marketing restrictions to uphold child rights and improve child health, the UK will not make progress on reversing its childhood obesity rates.”
Most restrictions on advertising food to kids target foods high salt, sugar, saturated fat, and calories. However, many global restrictions on junk food marketing to kids are voluntary, although there are some that are government-initiated.
The impact of reports such as the one from WCRF are twofold:
- They encourage creation of regulations around the world that restrict this type of advertising to kids.
- They place pressure on food and beverage manufacturers to reduce sugar, sodium, and calories in their foods targeted to kids.
As a result, modifying foods to be lower in sugar or fat is a strategy many companies can take to make their foods healthier for kids and more in line with advertising restrictions.