The International Obesity Taskforce is demanding an EU-wide ban on all advertising to children of junk food and sugar-laden soft drinks.

The taskforce – set up by a group of doctors meeting in Copenhagen last week – has warned the European Union that such examples of the food industry’s pharmacopoeiac art are leading to obesity among the continent’s children.

In its report, the IOTF states: “Children are targeted as consumers and are vulnerable to sophisticated marketing techniques and intense, repetitive advertising for the high-calorie, energy-dense foods and drinks, which are significant contributory factors to the rise in obesity.”

But the group is not confining itself to issuing warnings. It also demands action. “The EU’s implementation of a tobacco advertising ban should now be followed by similar EU-based restrictions on the targeting of the young, including pre-school children, to consume inappropriate foods and drinks.”

Stateside, more vigorous action is afoot, with two class actions under way targeting fast food Gargantuas and KFC. One lawsuit on behalf of a large gentleman charges that eating at these palaces of gastronomy made him fat.

McDonald’s, long the butt of criticism for promoting junk food to kids, has embarked on a programme to improve the nutritional content of its menu and is trialling several low-fat products in the UK and elsewhere [WAMN: 23-Aug-02].

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff