Junk Food Ad Ban For Kids TV Shows Coming Soon to the UK

Ofcom, the British equivalent of America's FCC, is sticking stick with its bold plans for a ban on junk food ads during TV programs watched by kids under age 16, in hopes of slowing down the epidemic of childhood obesity.

After announcing plans to enact a more stringent ban, bureaucrats opted for a phased-in approach instead, starting April 1 with a moratorium on ads for foods high in fat, sugar and salt for young children (ages 7-9), and finishing with an end to a complete ban of junk food ads on dedicated children channels by December 2008.

By the numbers, government officials estimate the amount of junk food ads a child will see may drop by more than 40 percent, and broadcasters stand to lose 39 million pounds in lost ad revenues. And, celebrities and cartoon characters hawking giveaways and nutritional claims will also be banned.

Just don't expect other nations, including the United States and much of Europe to do anything about the problem, other than offer toothless, voluntary bans that can disappear in a heartbeat.

Here's one number you can't ignore: Children are potentially exposed to 40,000 ads on TV every year. And, most of them are related to sugar-sweetened cereals and fast-food chains. Stopping the epidemic of childhood obesity begins with parental guidance, or the lack of it.

BBC News February 22, 2007