Position Statements


Are adverts for products high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) targeted at children?

Existing UK rules mean that ads for HFSS products cannot be targeted at children in any media and are among the strictest in the world. Children are protected up to the age of 16 – significantly higher than most countries, where rules apply only to under 12s.

Are tighter advertising rules required?

The current rules on advertising are comprehensive, effective, evidence-based and proportionate and apply wherever children might see ads – be that on TV, online, social media, the street or public transport. Enforcement by the Advertising Standards Authority is effective and well-respected.

Are children seeing more adverts for HFSS products?

Broadcast rules have been in place for over a decade and from 2007 when they were introduced up to 2010, there was a 37% decline in HFSS ads seen by children. From 2010 to 2017, children saw 40% fewer food and drink ads. Despite this, obesity rates have not changed.

Are children being targeted online and in social media with adverts for HFSS products?

Since July 2017, the same tough rules have applied in all other media including online, social media and public transport.

For online advertising, including social media, HFSS advertisers can use data, insights and age targeting to avoid their ads being seen by under 16s. By extension, they are also able to target only adults.

Would a 9pm watershed prevent children seeing adverts for products high in sugar?

A pre-9pm watershed ban would be disproportionate as it would remove adverts targeted at adult audiences and severely limit the ability of adults to view ads for products they wish to purchase. The majority of adult viewing takes place before 9pm, so a watershed ban limits their free choice. Further advertising restrictions of this nature would adversely impact the revenues of commercial media and the wider creative industries, but are unlikely to help address levels of obesity.