A 9pm watershed on junk food advertising is supported by the Scottish public and should be be applied to TV, online and outdoor adverts for products high in sugar, fat and salt, an obesity charity has claimed.
Obesity Action Scotland said such a watershed should include live TV, TV on demand, radio, all types of online, social media, apps, in-game, cinema and digital outdoor advertising such as billboards. There is already a ban on junk food ads on programmes which are predominantly watched by children, although this does not cover family shows where children do not make up the majority of the audience.
A poll carried out on behalf of the charity said the Scottish public showed support for the idea, with almopst three quarters of those surveyed saying they would support a ban on junk food adverts being shown on TV before 9pm. Seven out of ten people also said they support a ban on junk food adverts shown online before 9pm, while two thirds of respondents to the survey expressed support for a ban on junk food adverts shown outside of the home before 9pm.
The UK Government is currently consulting on advertising restrictions and the Scottish Government has agreed to explore action on devolved aspects of advertising.
Lorraine Tulloch, programme lead of Obesity Action Scotland, said: “We know that junk food adverts influence what children eat and contribute to childhood obesity. The current restrictions on advertising do not go far enough and we want to see the UK government implement a 9pm watershed across all forms of digital media.
“Adults across Scotland have indicated their strong support for such action. It’s time for government to step up to protect the health of our children. We urge everyone to take a few minutes to respond to the consultation and advise the government that they want to see action now.”
Whilst not covered by the current government consultation, the poll also found that Scottish adults recognised that other forms of marketing also needed action. A total of 72 per cent of respondents said they would support a ban on children’s cartoon characters or sports professionals appearing on the packaging of junk food and drink, while six in ten said junk food and drinks companies should be banned from being able to sponsor sports events.
Fast food restaurant chain McDonald’s has had a sponsorship deal with the Olympic Games since 1976 - including the 2012 games in London.
The International Olympic Committee faced criticism from public health campaigners over sponsors such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said:“Obesity is a major public health issue in Scotland – and whilst balanced diets are a key part of maintaining health, it’s clear that far more needs to be done.”