Loopholes in UK Ofcom rules for marketing to children
While UK is ahead of Australia in regulation of junk food marketing on television, Dr Emma Boyland in a recent seminar highlighted some of the loopholes, many of which we are also familiar with in Australia.
The rules are based on the proportion of children in the audience, not the number. Therefore popular shows will have large numbers of children viewing and hence high numbers exposed to advertising even though the actual proportion of children may be below the cut-off.
Brand advertising is not included in the legislation even though brand may still have an effect on influencing children.
The use of brand equity characters is not regulated, however well known characters have been shown to increase the preference for and liking of foods.
The use of celebrities to promote foods is only prohibited if the celebrity ‘is of particular appeal to children’. Sports commentators, although not directly appealing to children have been shown to influence children.
As in Australia, the ‘healthy’ Happy Meal is shown even though other happy meals are sold to children.