UK Children Bombarded with Junk Food Advertisements

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. establish / ɪˈstæb lɪʃ / (v) – to find out something

    The researchers want to establish how the new planet was formed.

  2. impressionable / ɪmˈprɛʃ ə nə bəl / (adj) – easily influenced

    The impressionable kids decided to copy the cartoon character by playing in the mud.

  3. watershed / ˈwɔ tərˌʃɛd, ˈwɒt ər- / (n) – an event that involves a huge change or development

    The invention of telephones was a watershed moment for mankind.  

  4. robust / roʊˈbʌst / (adj) – strong and unlikely to fail in all conditions

    The government formed a robust system that would ensure the proper management of its funds.

  5. toughen up (something/someone) / ˈtʌf ən ʌp / (phrasal) – to make something stricter

    I’m thinking of ways to toughen up the company rules on tardiness.


Read the text below.

A study established that children in the United Kingdom are being exposed to a lot of junk food advertisements while watching TV.

The study, conducted by the University of Liverpool, claims that 59% of the advertised food and drinks on UK television are high in fat, salt, and sugar—abbreviated as HFSS. These advertisements are unsuitable for younger audiences based on the UK nutrient profile model, a guide for regulating advertisements for children.

Health experts say that these advertisements contribute to childhood obesity in the country because children are impressionable when it comes to what they see on TV.

Currently, there is a ban on showing HFSS food and drink advertisements during TV programs for children, but it does not apply to TV programs for adults. However, according to the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), the group that funded the study, the ban is not effective because children watch more TV programs for adults.

Some examples of these programs include The Voice and The Simpsons, which were watched by an average of 971,000 children during the time of the study. These shows are not counted as TV programs for children because millions of their audience are adults. Therefore, the ban cannot cover these shows.

The researchers concluded the study by suggesting a watershed moment that will protect children from HFSS food advertisements: they demanded the government to make the ban also applicable to TV programs for adults.

However, a government spokesperson argued that the standing ban is robust as it is. But to address the issue further, the government vows to toughen up its policies against childhood obesity by also imposing taxes on HFSS food.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree that TV advertisements greatly influence children’s preferences?
• Do you think banning all junk food advertisements on TV will have a huge impact on children’s consumption of such products? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Is childhood obesity a huge concern in your country? Why or why not?
• What other programs and activities can be done to address childhood obesity?