Majority of Scots support ban on junk food TV adverts

Child obesity rates are rising around the world. Picture: TSPL
Child obesity rates are rising around the world. Picture: TSPL
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A majority of Scots would support a ban on unhealthy food being advertised on television before the 9pm watershed, a new poll has found.

A survey of 1,088 adults north of the border saw 59 per cent of respondents back a ban on TV ads - a measure health experts have said could limit the appeal of sugar-laden confectionary and snacks with high fat content to young children.

A similar ban was introduced across websites and video streaming services earlier this year, while junk food ads were removed from dedicated children’s programming more than a decade ago.

Calls for a clampdown have intensified following the recent publication of the Scottish Health Survey, which found almost a third of Scottish children are overweight or obese.

The World Health Organisation last week reported a tenfold increase in global childhood obesity in the past 40 years.

The poll, carried out by ScotPulse for STV, found that 47 per cent of Scots support the so-called sugar tax, which will see a levy on sugar-heavy soft drinks across the UK from 2018.

Support for a ban on selling junk food to school children was supported by 48 per cent of respondents.

The UK is not the first country to introduce what many call a ‘sugar tax’. Mexico and and the US state of California have already introduced similar levies.

In the UK, the new tax is expected to generate around £1.5 billion in the first three years of its implementation, with the proceeds to be largely spent on school sports.

A ban on junk food ads before 9pm is backed by Scottish Labour, although broadcasting regulation is reserved to Westminister.

“Such a move would stop young people being exposed to these adverts and help encourage food and drink companies to make different choices about the products they produce,” said public health spokesman Colin Smyth MSP.

“The scandal of child obesity is a long-standing and urgent challenge. The SNP and Tory governments have so far failed to match warm words with real action on this issue.

“A ban on junk food advertising pre-watershed should be investigated as a matter of urgency.”

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