Local shops exempt from ban on junk food adverts

Convenience stores can continue advertising unhealthy food under government plans to cut childhood obesity.

Proposals unveiled today show that foods high in salt, fat or sugar will be banned from TV advertising before the 9pm watershed.

Paid-for online adverts will also be blocked under the legislation.

Although the Queen’s Speech last month pledged a “total ban online” of junk food advertising , small businesses with under 250 employees will be exempt.

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Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman was “pleased” by the watered-down regulations.

“Social media, web sites and local advertising [are] an increasingly important part of convenience stores’ marketing activity,” he said.

“We will now be making sure that there is absolute clarity on the application of these rules so that retailers who do have to comply don’t inadvertently breach these regulations.”

Radio, podcast and business-to-business advertising will also be allowed, while brands can continue advertising on their own websites, blogs or social media pages.

Despite its exemptions, British Heart Foundation chief executive Charmaine Griffiths said the legislation would create “a more healthy environment where the healthy option is the easy option”.

“These plans are a bold and very positive step forward in protecting children from being inundated with junk food advertising,” she told BBC News.

However, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising – a lobby group for the marketing industry – claimed the 9pm watershed would only remove 1.7 calories from a child’s daily diet.

One in three children leave primary school overweight or obese, a figure which rises to nearly two in three among adults.

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