The Committee of Advertising Practice or CAP -- the code-setting committee for all advertising in the UK that appears in any media except on TV and radio (broadcast media) – has begun a public discussion on limiting where ads promoting products high in fat, salt, and sugar can appear in media including the press, posters, billboards, magazines, and online. 

     CAP is exploring specifically whether junk food ads should be banned from media targeted at children under the age of 12 or 16. “Advertising is just one small factor in a very complex equation but we believe we can play a positive part in addressing obesity in children. In proposing new rules, our aim is to strike the right balance between protecting children and enabling businesses to continue advertising their products responsibly,” said the chairman of CAP. 

    There is already a total ban on junk food TV advertising around all children’s programming and all shows that have a 20% higher proportion of under 16-year-old viewers than the UK average. 

    CAP is also looking to relax rules that ban the use of licensed characters, such as Elmo from Sesame Street, and celebrities popular with children in campaigns aimed directly at pre-school or primary school children. The new rules used to promote junk food, but open them up to being used to advertise healthier foods to children. 

    “Available evidence shows that advertising has a modest effect on children’s food preference, but other factors like parental influence, opportunities for physical exercise, education, etc., play greater roles in the causes of – and solutions to – childhood obesity,” said CAP. “___34___, CAP believes a relatively small positive impact from new advertising restrictions could make a meaningful contribution  to tackling this important health issue.”


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