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Junk food firms use web to lure children


Sarah Womack
UK Telegraph
January 1, 2008



Children will be targeted by junk food firms over the internet and mobile phones because of new rules on television adverts, campaigners have warned.

From yesterday, advertisements for junk food were banned during programmes aimed at under-16s.

But Richard Watts, of the Children's Food Campaign, which lobbies for the improvement of youngsters' health through better food, said firms would find other ways to reach them.

He said companies were marketing to children through chat and social networking websites and online games.

"We are seeing a general growth in the way the internet and text messaging is used to target children with ads," he said.

"There are a lot of websites springing up where there is an interactive feel. Companies have 'kid zones' where children can play games with their friends.

" Some brands are also using internet chat programs to target potential customers, who are urged to download branded "buddies" to their friends list. These give the users the latest information on the company's products.

Ed Mayo, chief executive of the National Consumer Council, said recently: "Parents should be aware that the internet is highly commercial. Every hour that a child spends in front of the computer is like letting them run loose in a shopping centre."

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