In April 2007, media and communications regulator Ofcom introduced broadcasting restrictions to reduce significantly the exposure of children to television advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).
At that time, eighty percent of all food advertising expenditure in children’s airtime on terrestrial channels was for HFSS foods. These foods can form part of a balanced diet, but research shows that children’s diets contain too much fat (especially saturated fat), salt and sugar, and not enough fruit and vegetables.
The nutrient profiling (NP) model was developed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2004-2005 as a tool to help Ofcom differentiate foods and improve the balance of television advertising to children. Ofcom introduced controls which restricted the advertising of HFSS foods in order to encourage the promotion of healthier alternatives.
The NP model was subject to rigorous scientific scrutiny, extensive consultation and review. It is supported by the independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and a wide range of nutrition experts.
It uses a scoring system which balances the contribution made by beneficial nutrients that are particularly important in children’s diets with components in the food that children should eat less of. The overall score indicates whether that food (or drink) can be advertised on TV during children’s viewing time, or not.
The NP model has been used by Ofcom since April 2007. In October 2010, technical support for the NP model was transferred from the FSA to the Department of Health.