UK's AA Chief Speaks out in 'Junk' Food Debate

11 June 2007

LONDON: The UK's second legislative chamber, the House of Lords, has debated a bill that would further toughen rules on 'junk' food commercials aimed at youngsters, as part of on the on going battle against childhood obesity.

The bill would ban all ads targeted at children before a 9pm watershed, and would go further than current restrictions on the advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS), introduced by media watchdog Ofcom in April [WARC News: 23-Feb-07].

But, Baroness Peta Buscombe, ceo of the Advertising Association, who spoke in the debate, said: "Obesity is a hugely important and multi-faceted social issue that must be taken seriously.

"Unfortunately this Bill proposing a 9pm watershed is a classic case of a quick fix solution to a complex problem. Advertising is an easy target, but advertising bans have unintended consequences and won't tackle the root causes of the problem of obesity."

She continued: "Not only would a watershed be damaging and disproportionate, it is not evidence-based and certainly not rational to introduce yet more changes when the current ones are only just being phased in at the present time."

The bill has been rejected by the government and is unlikely to be given further Parliamentary time.

Data sourced from the Advertising Association, additional content by WARC staff