We just can’t be trusted with ads for junk food, or so it seems. The government is now saying unhealthy treats shouldn’t be seen on YouTube or Facebook.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has launched a consultation on the matter to see if everyone agrees that cutting videos of chips, sweets and chocolate will help stop us all from stuffing our faces.
It says that a kind of watershed on junk food ads should be introduced, with none shown on tele before 9pm and tough restrictions on social media channels too.
The UK is facing a childhood obesity epidemic and action needs to be taken to help parents feed their children healthy meals without so much pressure to get them to eat sugar and fat-laden snacks and fast food.
Another option is to put time limits on junk food ads to cut down on the amount of exposure to children.
While all of this is still being thrashed out, some are saying that ads not expressly aimed at kids could be exempt from such a ban.
The latest proposals come in the wake of a similar ban on ads for unhealthy treats on the Tube in London, which was brought in last month.
Steve Brine, public health minister, said: “The NHS is already preparing to treat more and more children for the serious effects of extreme obesity in the future, so we have a duty to address the underlying causes because we believe passionately in our NHS.”
There’s debate among experts about online bans, with some saying that algorithms target children, so they can pester parents for junk food, while others suggest exposure to such ads is at a record low.
With today’s kids spending so much time online, it’s an interesting debate, but perhaps part of the problem is that while they’re on their devices they’re not doing enough exercise.
One thing that has been embraced and could make a difference to the so-called epidemic is the Daily Mile. This initiative sees kids jog for 15 minutes every day at nursery or school.
So, less time watching junk food ads online and more time running about could well be the answer, but who should be making the rules about what’s posted on the internet? The government or advertisers?