From July 2017 the advertisement of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) food or drink products whose target customers include a significant proportion of under-16s will be banned in all non-broadcast media.
The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has introduced the new rules in response to social concerns about childhood obesity and the shifting media habits among young people, who are now spending more time online than watching TV.
The rules will apply across all non-broadcast media targeted at under-16s including print, cinema, online and social media. The rules will also mean adverts for HFSS products will no longer be allowed to appear around online TV-like content such as on video-sharing platforms if they are directed at or likely to appeal to children.
The rules include:
• adverts for HFSS products cannot appear in other media where children make up over 25% of the audience
• adverts for HFSS products will not be allowed to use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children; advertisers may now use those techniques to better promote healthier options
• the Department of Health nutrient profiling model will be used to classify which products are HFSS.
The changes bring non-broadcast media into line with television, where strict regulation prohibits the advertising of unhealthy food to children. Although campaigners argue that even more needs to be done as some TV shows which are hugely popular with children, such as the X-factor, are exempt from restrictions as they fall outside children’s programming.