FGDP(UK) welcomes junk food ad restrictions

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FGDP(UK) says rules restricting the advertising of junk food to children are another step towards improving children’s oral health

New rules from the Committee on Advertising Practice, which came into effect on 1 July, have banned the advertising of food and drinks with high levels of fat, salt or sugar across a range of children’s media, as well as media where children make up at least a quarter of the audience. The use of promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children to advertise junk food are also now banned, as is the use of branding heavily associated with particular junk food products, even if those products are not directly shown.

In effect the ban applies to children’s magazines, children’s films in cinemas, billboards near schools, ad-funded apps and games targeted at under-16s, and some social media sites. However, the rules do not apply to packaging, in-store promotion, sports sponsorship, or industry-produced food education materials in schools, nor to television, which is subject to a separate advertising code.

When welcoming the regulations, Dr Mick Horton, Dean of FGDP(UK), said: “Dental professionals put a huge amount of effort into educating young people and their parents about the importance of diet to maintaining good oral health, but this is so easily undone by the constant bombardment of children with adverts for sweet treats and junk food.

“As a society we eat three times as much sugar as we should, and a quarter of primary school children have tooth decay, rising to a third in secondary school. While even tougher regulation would be desirable, the newly-strengthened rules are nonetheless a step forward in encouraging children, and empowering parents, to make healthier choices.”