Changes in the nature and balance of television food advertising to children

17 December 2008

In April 2007, Ofcom began phasing in restrictions on the advertising of food and drink that is high in fat or salt or sugar (HFSS). Ofcom’s principal aim was ‘to reduce the exposure of children to HFSS advertising, as a means of reducing opportunities to persuade children to demand and consume HFSS products’ .

In announcing the restrictions, Ofcom said that it would carry out a review in late 2008 to assess whether or not the restrictions were having the expected effects, in terms of:

  1. the reduction in HFSS advertising seen by children;
  2. use of advertising techniques considered to appeal to children in HFSS advertising; and
  3. the impact on broadcasting revenues.

At the request of the Government, we brought forward the start of the review to July 2008. Immediately before the review, we held a seminar for key stakeholders (including Government departments, broadcasters, advertisers and interest groups) to explain the approach we were taking. This document reports on the outcome of the review, which looks at changes in the television advertising of HFSS products between 2005 (the last year for which Ofcom had comprehensive full year data when reaching decisions on the advertising restrictions) and July 2007 to June 2008 (2007/8 - the latest 12 month period for which we have data).

The final phase of restrictions do not take effect until 1 January 2009, so this review does not reflect changes which may result from those restrictions. For this reason, we intend to carry out a further review in early 2010, when full year data for 2008 and 2009 is available.

Full Report 

Changes in the nature and balance of television food advertising to children (PDF, 533.4 KB)