The board of the UK’s Food Standards Agency has said it has finalised plans to address the way in which foods are promoted to children.

The FSA said the plan has been developed following the publication of the Hastings Report in September 2003 on the role of advertising of foods to children and the wider public debate about how the promotion of food can influence children’s diets. 

The board agreed that action was required on the promotion of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt if the balance of children’s diets are to be improved. The FSA added that it recognises that the promotion of foods is one of the many influences on children’s diets and that action was also required to encourage greater physical exercise.

The measures include actions that encompass the signposting of healthier options on supermarket shelves, nutritional guidelines for children’s food ranges, the promotion of healthier vending machines in schools, promotions by the food industry to encourage children to eat healthier foods, and action to address the imbalance of television advertising of food to children.

The action plan includes a recommendation that government departments and agencies should only endorse promotional campaigns that encourage children to eat healthier options.

The FSA also said that the government and broadcast regulator Ofcom should note its view that action to address the imbalance in TV advertising of food to children is justified, and that action on relative amounts of advertising for foods, meals or snacks high in fat, sugar or salt and for healthier foods, and the times at which these adverts are scheduled, is likely to be the most effective option to address the imbalance.

The FSA advised manufacturers and retailers to use promotions which encourage children to make or request repeat purchases of healthier foods and recommended the use of celebrities, characters and cartoons to encourage children to eat healthier foods.
To view the full action plan, click here.