Junk food adverts are to be banned on TV before 9pm in a bid to combat the rising problem of childhood obesity.

The watershed will be imposed on adverts for foods that are high in fat ,salt and sugar to try and prevent children developing ling term unhealthy eating habits.

It is estimated that one in three children leave primary school overweight or obese and obesity-related illnesses costs the NHS £6 billion a year across the UK.

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It has been decided the current advertising regulations are not enough to protect children from seeing a significant amount of unhealthy food adverts on TV and existing regulations don’t account for the increasing amount of time children are spending online.

The UK Government is to bring in the new rule across the whole country to reduce the exposure of children to advertising of unhealthy foods.

It is estimated it could wipe out 7 billion calories from children’s diets.

Glasgow Times:

The new rules, which will come into force at the end of next year, apply to TV and UK on-demand programmes, as well as restrictions on paid-for advertising of HFSS foods online

The ban will apply between 5.30 am and 9.30pm every day.

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Analysis from September 2019 demonstrated that almost half (47.6%) of all food adverts shown over the month on ITV1, Channel 4, Channel 5 and Sky1 were for products high in fat, salt and sugar, rising to nearly 60% between 6pm and 9pm. Ofcom research suggests that children’s viewing peaks in the hours after school, with the largest number of child viewers concentrated around family viewing time, between 6pm and 9pm.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: "We need to protect our children from developing unhealthy eating habits that can stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Glasgow Times:

“These measures, along with the UK Government's wider strategy to tackle childhood obesity, will bring significant improvements, hopefully encouraging young people to lead a healthier lifestyle for the long-term."  

The ban will apply to food and drink products of most concern to childhood obesity but the healthiest in each category will be able to continue to advertise.

It means foods such as honey, olive oil, avocados and marmite are excluded from the restrictions.

Smaller firms will also be exempt and the ban will apply to companies with 250 or more employees to allow small and medium sized businesses to continue to advertise.

The government said this is to recognise “these companies may be some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and rely on online media as the sole way to communicate with their customers”.

Larger firms can still advertise within ‘owned media’ spaces online, such as a brand's own blog, website, app or social media page.