Cancer Research UK disappointed over Ofcom junk food ruling

In collaboration with the Press Association

Media regulator Ofcom has announced that junk food adverts are to be banned during TV shows targeting children but stopped short of a full ban on pre-watershed adverts.

Ofcom said that the ban would apply to any food high in salt, fat and sugar, and would also be applied during adult programmes likely to be watched by under-16s.

Health campaigners had lobbied for a ban on all junk food advertising before the 9.00pm watershed. The rules will be enforced before the end of 2007.

The ban includes measures against other methods used by food companies to attract children, such as the use of celebrities, cartoon characters and free gifts in advertising.

"We welcome Ofcom's decision to restrict advertising junk food to the under-16s," said Richard Davidson, director of policy and public affairs at Cancer Research UK.

"But we are disappointed that Ofcom has abandoned the idea of a 9:00pm watershed.

"Childhood obesity rates continue to rise and we know that an unhealthy diet and excess bodyweight are the most important lifestyle risk factors for cancer after smoking."

Ofcom estimates that in households where children watch a large number of programmes aimed at adults as well as children, the average under 16-year-old would see 41 per cent fewer junk food adverts.