Regulation of Nutrition and Health Claims in Advertising

Ross Brennan
Middlesex University Business School

Barbara Czarnecka
Middlesex University Business School

Stephan Dahl
Middlesex University Business School

Lynne Eagle
University of the West of England

Olga Mourouti
Middlesex University Business School


INTRODUCTION

The Health Committee of the British House of Commons has concluded that around two-thirds of the population of England are overweight or obese. In addition to the many social and personal costs to which this contributes (including premature death and many health disorders), the Health Committee estimated the economic costs to be between £6.6 billion and £7.4 billion per year. Many factors have interacted to bring about this obesity epidemic, but the Committee is in no doubt that the advertising of highly energy-dense foods is implicated (House of Commons Health Committee, 2004). Here we have, in a nutshell, the case for regulating nutrition and health claims in food advertising: this is a matter that is allegedly far too important and far-reaching to be left to the uncertainties of self-regulation in an essentially free market-legislation is apparently the only sensible course of action. In this article, we will examine this proposition critically from the perspective of marketing communications.