09/02/2012 07:24 GMT

'Super-Complaint' Made Against 50 Websites Over Junk Food Ads 'Aimed At Children'

A leading children’s food charity has lodged a ‘super-complaint’ against 50 online companies that promote junk food specifically aimed at children.

The Children’s Food Campaign (CFC) plans to take its list of 50 offending websites to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today. The charity is also calling for new advertising regulations to ensure unhealthy products are not promoted to children on the internet.

This move follows the CFC’s collaboration with the British Heart Foundation last year, which saw both companies highlight the influence that online games, cartoons and social networking sites have on children when featured heavily on junk food and drink websites.

Talking about the latest campaign against junk food adverts and children, "CFC spokesperson, Kathy Hashem said in a statement: The pervasive nature of online junk food marketing to children really leaves us with no choice but to submit this 'super-complaint."

"It is time for the ASA to face the music: will it or will it not act to protect children from cynical junk food marketing practices?"

To highlight the campaign further, the CFC called out to Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, to ask him for his support. His office replied, as reported by the Press Association: "As Ed said in his letter, there are strict controls on the advertising of high fat, sugar, salt foods to children.

"Anyone concerned that a particular advert does not meet these controls should complain to the Advertising Standards Authority.

"The Government is taking action, including through Change4Life and the Responsibility Deal, to ensure children get the best start possible in life and to make it easier for families to make healthier choices and follow a balanced diet.'"

Responding to the CFC’s 'super-complain'’, an ASA spokesperson told The Huffington Post: "The ASA will, as with any complaint it received, carefully and thoroughly assess the concerns that the CFC raises."

Gillian Killiner, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA) told The Huffington Post: "Children have such pressure on them all the time, it's disappointing to think that when they're trying to do other things, that they are still being bombarded by subliminal messages.

"Parents trying to get their children to follow a healthy diet will be find it more difficult as they battle against the constant barrage of this appealing advertising, which is obviously designed to make the food look fabulous, regardless of its taste.

"Sadly, this is what children head for. If it's got a nice colour, contains chocolate or a free toy that is what will be most attractive to them. It needs to be nipped in the bud before it grows into a bigger problem than it already is."