The UK government wants to implement a sugar tax on soft drinks

The UK government wants to implement a sugar tax on soft drinks

The UK's advertising watchdog is considering a ban on marketing high-sugar beverages to under-16s via the Internet.

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), which writes the UK's advertising code, said today it is launching a full public consultation on advertising soft drinks to children through non-broadcast media, including online. It said the non-broadcast focus is because of the way the Internet has changed the way children consume media.

Included in the consultation is a proposal to explore whether new rules should prohibit or limit high-sugar products being advertising to children under 12 or under 16. CAP also said it will consider applying a current ban on using promotions and licensed characters and celebrities popular with children to high-sugar beverages only. The committee said this could allow for "more creative ways" for healthier beverages to be advertised to children.

CAP chairman James Best said: "Advertising is just one small factor in a very complex equation but we believe we can play a positive part in addressing an urgent societal challenge. In proposing new rules, our aim is to strike the right balance between protecting children and enabling businesses to continue advertising their products responsibly."

The consultation will close on 22 July. 

It follows other moves by UK authorities to combat rising levels of obesity. In March UK Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for a sugar tax on soft drinks. Since then, commentators have predicted that companies will look to reformulate recipes and cut calories.