UK Obesity Warnings Fuel Food Ads Fire

22 October 2007

LONDON: Pessimistic predictions of a nation populated by the excessively obese - and the concomitant strain on health resources - have prompted calls by a senior source within the UK government for more restrictions on 'junk' food advertising to children.

Following bans adopted earlier this year on commercials within children's TV programmes, health secretary Alan Johnson now wants to curb ads shown during adult-oriented shows which also attract a significant younger audience.

He points to early evening 'reality' shows which are watched by many children, but which are free to advertise fatty, sugary food and drinks.

As a result of last week's alarming study that estimates a quarter of British youngsters will be clinically obese by 2050 - not mention 60% of men and 50% of women - Johnson says the government will be "be reviewing the impact of the restriction on the nature and balance of food promotion to all children across all media".

UK ad industry body, the Advertising Association, headed by Baroness Peta Buscombe, insists that more government interference is not the answer.

She argues: "The future solution must be better self-regulation and restraint by the advertising industry and not unwelcome and restrictive legislation."

She maintains the industry has made "demonstrable" changes in its approach to food advertising in the last four years.

Data sourced from Brand Republic (UK); additional content by WARC staff