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Call for pre-watershed blackout

Holyrood demands ban on advertising junk food to young

Irn-Bru advertThe Scottish Government has renewed its calls for junk food television advertising to be banned before the 9pm watershed as its steps up its battle against obesity and poor health in youngsters.

Its move follows a new study showing the extent of children’s exposure to food and drink marketing,

The research, conducted by Ipsos Mori for the Scottish Government, found 63.5% of 11-18 year olds had seen at least one food or drink marketing promotion in the last seven days. A significant proportion of these were through the broadcast media.

Of those adverts, 74% were for energy dense and low nutrition foods such as sweets, chocolate and cake. Twenty four per cent of sightings were for sugar-sweetened soft drinks and 21% for chocolate and sugar-based confectionery.

Half (47%) of those surveyed said they were prompted by the marketing to make a purchase.

Minister for Public Health, Maureen Watt, has written again to Jane Ellison, UK Public Health Minister, to ask that adverts for high fat, salt, and sugar foods be stopped before 9pm.

Powers over broadcasting are currently reserved to Westminster. They are currently banned during children’s programmes, but prime-time early evening shows, which are watched by large numbers of under 16s, are currently permitted.

Ms Watt said: “This report gives further evidence of the need to curb the marketing of food and drink that is high in fat, salt and sugar. It shows us that a large number of 11 to 18 year-olds have seen television adverts for these foods, and it also shows that nearly half of respondents have made a purchase based on marketing they’ve seen in the last seven days.

“It’s clear that banning these adverts only during children’s programming is not stopping under-16s from seeing them. I therefore call on the UK Government to extend that ban to all programming before the 9pm watershed.

“If we are serious about tackling obesity, and reducing the prevalence of conditions like Type 2 diabetes, we need to make it as easy as possible for young people to eat healthy diets. That means looking seriously at the marketing of unhealthy food and drink. Reducing their exposure to such advertising on TV is a simple first step, and one that I believe should be taken without further delay.”

James Cant, Director of British Heart Foundation Scotland, said: “Over a quarter of children in Scotland are overweight or obese and dietary surveys show that children are eating too much salt, sugar and saturated fat.

“The UK Government must act now to ban junk food marketing before the 9pm watershed to help give children a stronger chance of avoiding future heart disease.”

>> Government risking backlash from Scottish food and drink industry

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