Junk food ad spend shifts to print

Press ads for “junk food” have leap by 42% since 2003 as spend has shifted out of TV, according to a new report by the Department of Health. It says ad spend in TV has halved over the past five years.

The report says that fewer children are being exposed to junk food advertising on TV and child-themed advertising spend has decreased by 41% since the beginning of 2003 – a fall from £103m in 2003 to £61m in 2007, despite an increase in the annual spend on food on drink ads.

Radio, internet and cinema saw a combined increase of 11% but this is coupled with a decline in ads for foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) compared to 2003.

The report called Changes In Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion To Children, shows the prevalence of advertising to children by the food and drink industry. It sets out details of an analysis carried out for the Department of Health on advertising across all media to children from January 2003 to December 2007. The report will form a baseline against which future child-themed advertising can be measured.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo (pictured) says: “A third of children in the UK are either overweight or obese, so it’s essential that we help our children make healthy choices in what they eat. The food and drink industry has a huge role to play in this.

“I am pleased that there are now fewer ads on TV that are tempting our children into bad eating habits – but we must keep our eye on other types of media. I hope that the industry will continue to play its part in reducing the exposure that children have to the promotion of food which is high in fat, salt or sugar.”

This report is part of a raft of measures taken across Government to tackle the difficult subject of child obesity. The £372 million backed Government strategy “Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives” published at the beginning of the year, made it plain that children’s diets are proportionally worse than adults. The future of children’s health is of particular concern.

Change4Life, the new DoH campaign launches in January and aims to get people throughout England to live healthier, more active lives.

The Government has also been working with Ofcom and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on reviewing the effectiveness of the current restrictions on food and drink advertising to children. They are currently conducting a review to look at what the industry is doing to improve the nature and balance of food promotion. The Ofcom review is expected to be published by the end of this year.

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