A ban on junk food TV adverts before 9pm proposed by The British Heart Foundation has gained support from South West London parents following London’s latest child obesity rates.
Around 37% of year six children in London are obese or overweight, according to latest statistics.
Hammersmith mum and secondary school teacher Camilla Williams, whose daughters Ruby and Lois are aged six and nine, said the proposed ban goes some way in addressing the problem.
She said: “Promoting a healthy diet to kids is hard enough even without the constant bombardment of junk food ads.
“Permitting these ads on TV schedules is irresponsible, especially given the rising figures of obesity in young children.”
Streatham full-time mum Michelle Cayton, whose sons Danny and Finlay are five and seven, said she would support a ban in partnership with education.
She said: “The most important thing is to educate kids about making their own healthy choices and that is the job of parents and schools.
“However, it is not helpful that kids are exposed to very attractive adverts for fast food- it just makes our job as parents that much harder.”
Current regulations mean that foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar are banned from being advertised during children’s programming.
Despite this, The British Heart Foundation says current regulations are failing London families because loopholes mean that food companies can advertise junk food during programmes watched by children in London.
The latest Ofcom figures show that 65% of children watch TV during what is considered adult airtime. Peak viewing for children is between 7 and 8pm when up to 1.8 million children are glued to their TV screens.
This means that millions of children across the UK are being exposed to junk food adverts during popular shows such as The X Factor and Hollyoaks.
During just one X Factor show last year, 13 junk food adverts were shown that promoted unhealthy snacks to children watching before 9pm.
Director of policy at The British Heart Foundation Mike Hobday said the figures were worrying, as carrying excessive weight into adulthood increases the risk of developing heart disease.
He said: “We need to protect young people against the sophisticated marketing techniques of junk food advertisers.
“We mustn’t allow food companies to continue to exploit a failing regulatory system that allows them to bombard TV screens with junk food adverts at the times when the highest numbers of children are watching TV.”
The British Heart Foundation’s call for a ban is part of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy that is expected later this month.
Last month the charity joined eighteen organisations to form a national alliance calling for a range of polices to tackle the UK’s obesity crisis.
These included restrictions on unhealthy food marketing and a 20% tax on sugary drinks.
For more information about the BHF’s call for a ban of junk food advertising before 9pm, visit: www.bhf.org.uk/junkfood
Picture courtesy of William Warby, with thanks