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Britain Just Banned Online Junk Food Ads That Target Children

Sorry Ronald McDonald, you’ve been de-friended.
Photo via Flickr user James

You're on the bus home from work, crawling through traffic towards an empty fridge and scrolling through Twitter. Suddenly, those Golden Arches pop up on your screen and your stomach starts to rumble. A McChicken sandwich would go down pretty nicely right now …

But this could be the last time you fall for a cannily located food ad.

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This morning, the UK's Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) announced a ban on junk food adverts targeted at children across all non-broadcast media. The tough new rules cover print, cinema, online, and social media ads which promote high salt, fat, or sugar products. CAP said the decision was taken to try and tackle childhood obesity.


So long, Ronald McDonald.

The move to restrict online and print junk food marketing targeted at under-16s comes as an extension of an ad ban already in place during children's television programmes. In a press release announcing the new rules, which will come into effect next July, CAP said: "The new rules respond to shifting media habits amongst young people and evolving advertising techniques which have fundamentally changed children's relationship with media and advertising."

Health campaign groups like Obesity Health Alliance have praised the new legislation. They see the ban as particularly welcome after the Government's recently published childhood obesity strategy made no mention of restrictions on junk food advertising, despite evidence that marketing heavily influences children's food choices. Public Health England have also advised a restriction on the advertising of high sugar products to children.

But some campaigners believe CAP's restrictions don't go far enough. Jenny Rosborough of the campaign group Action on Sugar told MUNCHIES in a statement that the new rules should extend to family entertainment, too.

READ MORE: One Third of British Kids Leaves Primary School Obese or Overweight

She said: "We welcome the news that CAP is banning the advertising of high fat, salt, or sugar food or drink products in children's non-broadcast media. However, we need to see bans on advertising go further, as they currently do not manage exposure to these adverts during popular family programmes such as The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent."

Time will tell whether CAP's new rules have an effect on the growing problem of overweight kids.