Children targeted by online junk food marketing

Children are now protected from junk food adverts on television, but what about the largely uncensored world of the Internet?

Campaigners are accusing many firms of using shameless tactics such as childish language, free gifts and online games in a bid to appeal to their young audience.

Although certain advertising laws have been put in place prohibiting adverts for unhealthy foods within children’s TV programmes, retailers are attempting to thwart them by marketing their unhealthy foods online instead.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the Children’s Food Campaign have used retailers such as Nesquik and Cadburys in their campaign as example of online junk food marketing. The organisations cited Cadbury’s Buttons in particular which promote the product online with a site called “Buttons Furry Tales” which involved animated characters, puzzles and games – despite an ‘adult’ year of birth having to be provided before being granted access to the webpage.

A spokesperson from the BHF has said that junk food manufacturers are preying on children and targeting them with fun and games that they know will hold their attention.

Though the Advertising Standards Authority have said that they rigorously regulate the advertising industry, the BHF and the Children’s Food Campaign are calling for rules promoting more responsible online marketing from retailers.

The Advertising Standards Authority has said if campaigners feel that certain websites breech guidelines then they should lodge a formal complaint.

“The rules are very clear: ads must not condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children.”

View and comment on the original BBC News article.

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Emma Hilton

Written by Emma Hilton

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