Bite Back 2030 works to lobby businesses and government to act on young people’s right to health. At their heart is the Youth Board – made up of teenage activists.
One of these activists, 16-year-old Dev Sharma, wanted to know the extent to which young people like him were being bombarded with junk food ads.
Bite Back 2030’s report has found that young people in Britain are exposed to nearly 500 junk food adverts per second, an amount that has been increasing during the COVID pandemic. Around half of children’s websites and more than seven in ten children’s YouTube channels feature adverts for food high in fat, sugar or salt.
It’s concerning that the report reveals that Facebook and Instagram specifically target children from low-income backgrounds with junk food content. Children are more vulnerable to marketing techniques and teenagers from deprived communities are 40% more likely to remember seeing adverts for junk food than their better-off peers.
The increase in advertising during lockdowns is particularly disturbing as screen time has increased exposing young people to more unhealthy food. This is within the context of COVID-19 disproportionately affecting those overweight and obese, and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Bite Back’s Youth Board is asking for a meeting with Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP to discuss this issue, ensuring young people’s voices are heard and child health is prioritised. You can add your name to their letter here.