Television advertising of ‘unhealthy’ food to children should be banned throughout the European Union, according to a report published today (Thursday) by the European Heart Network.

It wants the ‘TV Without Frontiers’ directive amended to prohibit such advertising, extending legislation already in place in Norway and Sweden.

“Additional measures should be introduced to protect children from all other forms of ‘unhealthy’ food marketing,” the report said.

“The experience in Norway and Sweden – where a ban on TV advertisements to children has been undermined by broadcasting from outside their border and by marketing in other media – demonstrates why a Europe-wide approach is necessary,” it said.

“Most of the food marketed to children is regarded by those concerned with public health, as ‘unhealthy food, i.e. food that is high in fat, particularly saturated fat, sugar or salt, and low in essential minerals, vitamins and other components important for a healthy diet,” it said. “This project found that estimates of the percentage of TV advertisements for food aimed at children that were for unhealthy foods ranged from 49% in Italy to nearly 100% in Denmark and the UK.”