The new guidelines from Ofcom will effectively ban broadcasters from advertising foods that have a high fat, salt and sugar content as determined by the food watchdog the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Ofcom CEO Ed Richards said that research had shown television to be having an effect.
"In our view it is now clearly established that, given such advertising does have a modest influence on childhood food preferences, the case for the new restrictions - which will be significant in some area's of broadcasting - has been made," he said.
Ofcom is taking action due to concerns over rising levels of obesity in children, and in response to findings from its own research. The television regulators decision comes on the back of current health trends dominating the media, supermarkets and consumer interest.
"Children are targeted every day with messages that promote foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar, and the Hastings Review clearly showed that this does have an influence on children's food choices" said Deirdre Hutton, chair of the Food Standards Agency.
Controversially the new regulations will see cheese banned from children's ads.The British Cheese Board claims that a typical serving of cheese would be just 40g, less than the standard 100g measurement used by the FSA, taking it off of the list foods banned from being advertised. This is because the FSA's traffic light model asses the fat, salt and sugar content in a 100g or 100ml serving, which therefore classes cheese as extremly high in fat.
Other foods to be banned under the Ofcom 'junk food' tag are chicken nuggets, sausages, bacon rashers, pizza, hamburgers, Jaffa Cakes and chocolate.
Ironically other foods that might be perceived as unhealthy escape the ban, including currant buns, frozen chips, flavoured milks and ready meals.