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Food adverts during family TV shows encourage junk food consumption

A new report that contains research conducted at the University of Liverpool has found that six in ten food adverts shown during family programmes push junk food, including fast food, takeaways and sweets. Normally, these adverts would be banned from children’s TV under UK regulations which prohibit the advertising of food high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) during programmes that are specifically aimed at children. However, due to a loophole in the legislation, adverts during ‘family’ TV programmes that are popular with children do not have the same safeguards in place. This is despite the fact that significantly more children are watching these programmes than some of the more popular children’s shows.

The researchers, based at the University of Liverpool, have previously published research that demonstrated that television food advertising alters children’s food preferences, towards high fat, salt and sugar foods. In this study they found that, at its worst, junk food advertising constituted nine adverts within a 30-minute period. In total 59% of food and drink adverts were for HFSS foods, whilst only 1% were for fruit and vegetables. The researchers hope that the regulations put in place over HFSS food advertising during children’s programmes will be extended to include more family focused programmes up to the watershed of 9pm.

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