The Government has just announced a consultation to restrict children’s exposure to junk food adverts, including an option to introduce a 9pm watershed on unhealthy food and drinks adverts. This policy has a huge body of support from parents to politicians and charities plus a range of health professionals who deal with the consequences of obesity every day and have no vested interests other than the future health of children.

“Once you cut through all the spin from the advertising and food industry, it’s really simple, isn’t it? If we don’t find effective ways to improve our kids’ health, UK children will live shorter lives than their parents. It’s a fact that kids are hugely influenced by junk food ads – so the media and the food industry has a real opportunity here to do something about it. The 9pm watershed would be a real step in the right direction to help address the current un-level playing field.”
Jamie Oliver, chef and campaigner, @jamieoliver

“As a parent I definitely notice the power of advertising on my children. Whether it’s the more frequent requests for fast food and chocolate after watching Saturday night TV or a preference for certain soft drinks a vlogger drinks during gaming marathons, it’s obvious that these adverts are influential. I really like the idea of a 9pm watershed on unhealthy adverts on TV and online to help me know what my children will see at different times of the day whether they are watching TV or using a phone or tablet.”
Jennifer Hird, parent of four children aged 8-14, @hirdy_birdy

“We have over 40 years’ worth of research evidence to show that seeing junk food adverts influences what children eat and how much they eat. These adverts are designed to be visually and emotionally appealing, and act on brain regions responsible for reward, pleasure, taste, decision making and self-regulation, all integral in the human response to food cues and for making food decisions. So it’s absolutely right that the Government should seek to protect children’s health by making sure children are not exposed to these adverts, whatever media device they are using.”
Dr Emma Boyland, Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool, @EmmaBoyland

“The evidence is clear – junk food adverts are impacting children’s health and the current regulations are outdated and riddled with loopholes. A 9pm watershed on unhealthy food adverts both on TV and online is desperately needed and supported not only by health experts but also over 70% of the public. It’s the right thing to do for children’s future health.”
Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead, Obesity Health Alliance, OHA_updates

“For 25 years I helped to create advertising, digital marketing, social media and sales promotions campaigns for many of the world’s largest food companies. If in doubt about the need for this policy, ask these simple questions – why do successful food companies spend 10-20% of their turnover on marketing? Why, in markets with less regulations, do they so openly target kids? And, if advertising to kids before 9pm on TV and digital is as ineffective as they claim, then why are they trying to very so hard to protect it? The answer to all is simple and obvious – advertising works.”
Dan Parker, ex food marketing agency director, CEO Living Loud, @LivingLoudUK

“The advertising used to pitch junk food and sugary snacks at us is not just relentless but, unfortunately, highly effective. My work on Britain’s Fat Fight has convinced me that it’s directly contributing to the obesity crisis. So it’s time to take action, and curb the detrimental effect of these products on public health. A 9pm watershed for the marketing of these products, on TV and right across online platforms, would show that the Government is at last ready to put the health of our kids above the profits of the big food companies. It’s within our reach to change the system for the better: let’s use this opportunity to do just that.”
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, writer, broadcaster and campaigner, @HughFW

“One in three children in England leaves school with excess weight or obesity. As a paediatrician, I see the consequences of this every day, both in physical effects on sleep and mobility, and also social and emotional disadvantage. This is before we consider the devastating long-term impact. We know that food advertising influences what children choose to eat. With loopholes in the existing regulations meaning that children are inundated with adverts for unhealthy food and drink as they watch their favourite shows and play games online, it is little wonder that we are in the midst of a childhood obesity crisis. A 9pm watershed on junk food marketing across all media is a crucial step towards tackling childhood obesity and ensuring a healthier future for all our children.”
Dr Max Davie, Officer for Health Improvement at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, @RCPCHtweets

“Nurses and midwives work on the frontline, often providing support to people to help them achieve a healthy weight. Health Visitors and School Nurses particularly, work with children and families and see the effects of families being bombarded with junk food advertising and how this makes it more challenging for them to change the way they eat. That’s why we need a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts in all media, as one important way to support families to be healthy.”
Helen Donovan, Professional Lead for Public Health Nursing, Royal College of Nursing, @theRCN

“The UK is in the grip of an obesity crisis, and we must take action to protect our children’s health. Restricting junk food advertising has got to be part of that. We cannot allow new restrictions on TV advertising to result in adverts flooding to other platforms, like online, where regulation is less robust. We need multimedia advertising reform. For the sake of the future generation’s health, we can’t afford to get this wrong.”
Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, @tom_watson

“While Brexit drags on, children’s health in this country is taking a back seat. This is now the first generation of children that will live shorter lives than their parents. The UK government need to implement their child obesity action plan, and, as part of a range of measures, implement a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts.”
Caroline Lucas, MP, Joint Leader of the Green Party, @CarolineLucas

“As part of the government’s world leading plan to halve childhood obesity in the UK by 2030, this consultation is vital and timely. We need the views of the public and parents to ensure we take the best course of action for children in the UK – and the best course of action in this case is a 9pm watershed to reduce their exposure to junk food marketing.”
Andrew Selous, MP, Conservative Party and Co-Chair of the APPG on Obesity, @AndrewSelous

“We know that advertising works, and we know that junk food is harming our children’s health. Those are facts. This watershed gives the Government a real chance to protect young people by altering our obesogenic environment. Profit should never be put before health, and if we are to stop millions of children in the UK suffering from diet-related illnesses it’s crucial that the Government does not cave to industry pressure. The time to act is now.”
Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, @Food_Foundation

“We welcome the start of the Government consultation on a 9pm watershed for all advertising of foods high in fat, salt and/or sugar both on TV and equivalent online restrictions. There is increasing evidence that the more children are exposed to junk food marketing, the more they are likely to consume excess sugar and calories. Parents have a powerful role to play in encouraging healthy eating habits, but they tell us their job is made so much harder when children are constantly seeing advertising for junk foods. In our Parents’ Jury survey in 2018, almost 9 in 10 parents told us they would like to see a 9pm watershed policy on junk food marketing.”
Barbara Crowther, Children’s Food Campaign and Parent’s Jury coordinator, @childrensfood

“Adverts for junk food are everywhere, making it seem normal to regularly eat large portions of fast food and sweets – and we know that children with overweight and obesity are particularly susceptible to their influence. Our members tell us that this makes it much harder to make healthy choices for their families. A 9pm watershed on junk food adverts is much needed to help get these adverts out of sight and out of mind.”
Sarah Le Broq, Helping People Overcome Obesity, @HoopGroupUK

“A 9pm watershed on TV and online is urgently needed to reduce children’s exposure to junk food ads. We need a healthier environment outside schools to support what’s being taught in classrooms.”
Stephanie Wood, CEO School Food Matters, @sfmtweet

“In Scotland, we have been seeking action on this issue for a long time. The Scottish Government first asked the UK Government to implement a 9pm TV watershed for advertising of junk food in 2015. With children’s use of digital media growing we need such action to be taken across all digital platforms. Urgent implementation of this policy is now required to protect the health of our children.”
Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead, Obesity Action Scotland, @obesityacsc

“Our research shows that children exposed to lots of adverts are more likely to eat more junk food and are more than twice as likely to become obese. A comprehensive 9pm watershed for junk food adverts across TV, on-demand and online would help parents and children make healthier choices, limit pester power and reduce cancer risk in future generations.”
“The advertising industry may still be turning a blind eye to how junk food brands’ advertising campaigns operate. But this consultation now gives the Government a chance to listen to the evidence and to families’ own experiences, rather than industry-vested interests. We will be encouraging the Government to implement the strongest possible version of the 9pm watershed.”
Malcolm Clark, Policy Manager, Cancer Research UK, @CRUK_Policy

“As a GP, the growing prevalence of obesity-related illness and disease, such as diabetes, is highly concerning, and this is especially true of children and young people who are often unaware of the risk an unhealthy diet is having on their health.
“Mass media advertising has a powerful impact on children’s dietary choices and consumption behaviour so population-wide preventative measures, such as the 9pm watershed on junk food advertising, are crucial if we are to protect the health of our children and young people.”
Dr Andrew Green, BMA GP clinical prescribing and policy lead, @TheBMA