Most Scots would back a pre-watershed ban on all junk food advertising in a bid to curb childhood obesity. 

A poll of more than 1,000 adults by YouGov found that 75 per cent were in favour of outlawing television marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt before 9pm. 

The survey, commissioned by Obesity Action Scotland, also found widespread support (69%) for a ban on online advertising of such items before 9pm, with 67% of those questioned agreeing that children would be more likely to have a healthier diet if they were less exposed to adverts promoting fatty food, sweets and sugary drinks. 

Obesity Action Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government and based at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow, wants a broadcast ban to apply to all media devices and channels including live television, television on-demand, radio, online, social media,apps, in-game, cinema and digital outdoor billboards. 

Research by broadcasting regulator Ofcom previously found that youngsters spend 64% of their television viewing time watching shows not aimed specifically at them.

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said he wanted the watershed “implemented as soon as possible”.
Cancer Research UK has also been lobbying for the reform. In a study last year, the charity found watching one extra junk food advert a week, above the average of six, leads to children eating an extra 18,000 calories a year.

Two-thirds of respondents to the YouGov poll also said they supported a ban on junk food adverts shown outside of the home before 9pm, and agreed that this sort of marketing contributes to childhood obesity. 

The UK Government, which controls advertising powers, is currently consulting on tougher advertising restrictions on foods high in salt, fat and sugar. 

The deadline for responses is Monday. 

Lorraine Tulloch, programme lead of Obesity Action Scotland said: “We know that junk food adverts influence what children eat and contribute to childhood obesity.
“The current restrictions on advertising do not go far enough and we want to see the UK Government implement a 9pm watershed across all forms of digital media.

“Adults across Scotland have indicated their strong support for such action. 

“It’s time for government to step up to protect the health of our children.”

The survey results were based on a representative sample of 1,007 adults interviewed between May 23 and May 27. 

Most (72%) said they would also support additional measures to tackle unhealthy eating among children such as ban on children’s cartoon characters or sports professionals on the packaging of junk food and sugary drinks. 

Almost 60% said junk food and drink companies should not be allowed to 
sponsor sports events. 

However, a report in March this year from the Advertising Association (AA) said children’s exposure to adverts for products with high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) contents has already declined in recent years, with no measurable impact on obesity levels.

AA chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “Further restrictions on advertising are not the silver bullet for rising childhood obesity. A continuing focus on the failed strategy of further advertising restriction is founded on the misplaced belief that children are ‘bombarded’ by high-fat, sugar and salt advertising.”