Food and Drink Advertising for Children Under New Scrutiny

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced it is reviewing food and drink advertising that targets children, with the aim of potentially introducing stricter regulations.

Food ads, particularly online, will be surveyed by the watchdog to determine whether more stringent regulations are needed. Additionally, the ASA is looking into measures to tackle advertisers who are flouting the laws.

Although the ASA says the number of complaints it receives about food ads are reasonably low, it nevertheless takes into account the "impact of food advertising is part of a wider public health debate about current levels of obesity". This "sense check" review also follows more general concerns about the amount of inappropriate content that children are exposed to online, particularly through mobile apps.

The ASA has joined forces with Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) to commission a study exploring the impact of digital and online marketing of food and drink products targeting kids. These findings are expected to be released at the end of 2014.

Director of Public Affairs at advertising trade body ISBA, Ian Twinn, commented: "Advertisers operate to strict rules and codes of practice to ensure that their messages are delivered responsibly, especially in relation to children. All the evidence shows that these measures are working. However, the environment in which we all consume ads is ever changing so we recognise the importance of focusing new research on the impact of digital and online marketing."

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