Governments around the globe are “failing to protect” children from the effects of junk food marketing, a new report warns.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) said that the junk food marketing has a “damaging impact” on children’s health and nutrition.
Marketing affects what children want, buy and eat, which in turn affects their health and contributes to the increasing levels of childhood obesity, it said.
Previous research has shown that seeing 4.4 minutes of food advertising can lead to children eating 60 more calories a day, and eating as little as 46 extra calories each day can lead to excess weight in children.
Global childhood obesity rates are on the rise and, in the UK alone, one in three children are overweight or obese when they leave primary school. Overweight or obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese adults, putting them at an increased risk of a number of deadly conditions including at least 12 different cancers.
The report takes lessons learned from around the world, highlighting that restricting marketing of junk food to children reduces their exposure to these products and therefore reduces how much of them they eat. This can help reduce childhood obesity rates and it is why marketing restrictions are internationally recognised as urgently needed.
“Our report highlights the vital role that governments play in ensuring that junk food is not actively promoted to children,” said Kate Oldridge-Turner, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at WCRF.
“We are calling for the new UK government to take a fresh approach at tackling childhood obesity rates… For example, by introducing tighter restrictions on junk food marketing aimed at children that prevent food companies finding loopholes in the current legislation; such as a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts across all media.”