(NaturalNews) A new and more stringent ban on advertising junk food to children has come into effect in the United Kingdom, but many health advocates are saying the new measures do not go far enough.
In April 2007, the British government banned the airing of junk food ads during any television program designed to appeal to children under the age of 9. In December, that ban was expanded to include all programming on stations dedicated to children, and all programs targeted at children under the age of 16.
According to UK Children's Secretary Ed Balls, the average child in the United Kingdom watches approximately 10,000 television ads per year, and is able to recognize 400 brands by age 10.
Broadcasters have objected to the rules, saying that they expect a drastic fall in advertising revenue as a result. Land-based broadcasters expect a 1 percent drop, satellite children's stations expect a 9 percent drop, and commercial children's stations expect a 15 percent drop. In all, broadcasters say they may lose as much as £39 million ($77 million) in advertising income.
Also in the works are new rules that would ban the use of celebrities and cartoon heroes or other popular children's characters to advertise junk food.
The government defines junk food based on a rating system developed by the Food Standards Agency. Children's programming is defined based on what percentage of a program's viewers are children.
But many children's health advocates say the new rules are not strict enough, and have called for a complete ban on junk food advertising before 9 p.m.
According to Richard Watts of the children's food campaign, the new rules do not apply to 18 of the 20 shows most watched by children. Watts says that the new rules were drafted with not only children's health and mind, but also the "financial health" of broadcasters.