Call for pre-watershed ban on junk food advertising

Burger and chips Research found children were still exposed to adverts for foods high in fat, salt or sugar

Related Stories

Television adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt should not be shown before the 9pm watershed, according to Scotland's public health minister.

Michael Matheson has written to UK Health Secretary Andrew Lansley asking if he would support a UK-wide ban.

It follows recent research which suggests children are still exposed to the same level of junk food advertising despite tighter regulations.

Health groups say further action is needed to tackle the problem.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom brought in a ban on advertising foods high in fat, salt or sugar during children's programming.

But a study by academics at Newcastle University found 6.1% of adverts seen by youngsters were about junk food before the ban, with the figure at 7% after the ban.

They said young people do not just watch children's programmes, to which the rules apply.

Mr Matheson now wants the regulations to go further.

Start Quote

The media has an important role to play in forming attitudes to nutrition”

End Quote Dr Sally Winning BMA Scotland

He said: "According to the UN and Ofcom studies, the restrictions brought in by Ofcom have been adhered to by children's channels and broadcasters showing programmes specifically aimed at children.

"However, a loophole exists that allows HFSS (high in fat, sugar and salt) food adverts to feature during programmes with a high child audience such as soaps and talent shows.

"That's why we want to introduce a pre-watershed ban and are looking to the UK government to support such a move which would carry the additional benefit of encouraging our partners in the food industry to reformulate their produce to lower salt, fat and sugar content."

Scotland's public health minister said such a move would require "co-operation" between the UK and Scottish governments.

He added: "Broadcast advertising influences the choices made by children and can shape their attitudes to food as they grow into adulthood.

"Tackling obesity and encouraging people to make healthier life choices is one of the most important things we can do to improve the health of our nation."

Further consideration

Jane Landon, deputy chief executive of the National Heart Forum, welcomed the call for a pre-watershed ban.

She said: "The existing rules have delivered protections in principle but not in practice."

Dr Sally Winning, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association Scotland, said: "The media has an important role to play in forming attitudes to nutrition and there is scope to harness this potential and further regulate its more harmful impact.

"Whilst the advertising of unhealthy foodstuffs, including inappropriate sponsorship of programmes and events targeted at school children, is already regulated, it should be noted that many of the TV programmes most watched by children are not children's programmes, and so further consideration must be given to addressing this."

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie accused the SNP of "picking a fight" with Westminster.

She said: "At a time when we have lost 2,000 nurses, our hospitals are crumbling and we don't have enough blankets for elderly patients, I am amazed that the SNP government is picking a fight with the UK government about what time we can show McDonald's adverts on television.

"This is the same government which rejected my colleague Richard Simpson's Trans-fats Bill, something they did have the power to do.

"The SNP's obsession with constitutional politics knows no bounds and is distracting from the real problems in our health service."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    the government should regulate all this via food and drink stamps as it seems to know best. This way there would be no need regulate adds, ban tobacco, force drinks prices. We then all would be quite miserable, but at least we would die healthy and the government could focus on working out how to pay the pensions for us super healthy people for longer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I have said this for years, the fast food industry has just grown and grown mainly because of lack of education, good parenting and downright laziness. If I had my way all fast food outlets would be shut down ... and that includes all the big businesses like McDonalds and Burger King.
    I also find that McDonalds being a sponsor of the olympics highly offensive, absolutely disgusting in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Ladies and gentlemen. Can I suggest that we concentrate on resolving the many serious issues that beset the world around us. If people want to eat 'junk food,' let them. It is their business, not yours what I eat or don't eat. If it's bad for me, that is my problem. We are slowly being brainwashed into a controlled way of life. There is no freedom anymore.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    its not just junk food that makes people fat, normal food does it as well !

    we should have a curb on all these food/chef programmes too, they are out of control and everywhere,, food,food,food,food,food,food

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I wonder why I got deleted? The Yellow Peril Soup most certainly is a mercury loaded threat to human health!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    Muckdonuts and others probably use advertising in the same way as toy manufacturers at Xmas, with an eye on parent's wallets by tempting the kids. And also by promoting the likes of Muckdonuts as a family friendly, the place to spend some time with the kids eating Muckdonut's muck. While at the same time parting company with your cash. A good business business strategy. They are luvin it.,!

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Obese means diabetes and other health issues. All of us pay for those.

    Travesty that alcohol and fags have high tax but sugar and hydrogenated fat don't. Tax the bad food highly and use tax take to subsidise fresh food prices.

    Government already intervenes in our lives why not a bit more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    For balance, McD's go to great lengths providing nutritional information about the limited fat and salt content in their products.
    Once or twice a month my halo slips and I use the above vendor generally for a Vegetable Wrap etc. Was recently impressed with a breakfast at Little Chef and that the breakfast wasn't swimming in oil. Moderation is the key, Veggie Percy Pigs however......

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    I do agree with the sentiment, that it is the parents who take their kids to McDo and Co.
    I do not believe, that banning fast food adds would do the trick.
    They talk about food containing high levels of sugar, salt, fat - lets start with breakfast cereals then. ChocoPops et all. That stuff is sold as healthy breakfast, but it is full of crap.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    "Pester Power" and "Poor Parenting" combine to cause the problem of too much junk food consumption. The govt. pays lip-service to this because (a) health problems will happen beyond the lifetime of the particular govt., and (b) if it cannot shove people into low-skilled jobs at fast food outlets, how can they continue to massage the unexmployment figures and line their big business mates' pockets?

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Junk Food? I take it we are discussing all meat products generally?

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    The ads won't work as most parents want an easy life and give in to whining kids. I have no trouble whatsoever with my three kids, as we don't shop at supermarkets, we do local butchers, bakers, greengrocers etc. so much cheaper as your not tempted by supposed offers on junk that passes for food. As for fast food, the occasional treat once a fortnight to the local fish/chip shop suffices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    Perhaps there is a correlation during this prime viewing time between junk for the body and junk for the mind? Where the brain, deactivated by soaps and talent shows, is less able to make intelligent lifestyle choices. Otherwise, why the obvious investment in all the brain numbing advertising and slogans directed at child and adult alike?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    We have all the education tools in place to advise people not to eat junk food. If people want to eat this garbage and become fatties, then let them ahhahaha ahhahaha hohoho!!!

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Junk parents

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    If we stopped eating junk then what would happen to the jobs that rely on junk? The food industry is 'too big to fail'. I think it would be better to promote more businesses that sell 'healthier' food. The govt wont ban cigarettes even tho they clearly harm smokers and those near them so its unlikely theyd ban junk food. Schools need to play a bigger role

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Never mind about the watershed, I think TV Ads for junk food should be banned altogether.
    I would go further and say junk food outlets should be severely restricted. Obesity costs the NHS more than smoking and is on the increase. Something drastic needs to be done immediately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Cigarette brands were banned from F1 ages ago. My favourite F1 car was the John Player Special Lotus. I smoked JPS because I thought that was cool. I digress. Ads, or anything related to alcohol or junk food should be banned from sporting events and TV. It's unethical and amoral.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    If people want to eat junk food let them, show them the photos of a few human organs coated in a thick layer of fat and see if they change there mind.


Page 12 of 16


More Scotland stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.