UK industry groups oppose move to ban junk food ads on TV

MUMBAI: Industry groups in the United Kingdom are fiercely opposing the British government's move to ban junk food advertisements on television aimed at children.



The idea of stopping junk food advertisements gained force last week with the publication of a report by the Commons select committee on health, which said that British kids could face an obesity crisis if some controls were not put in place and went so far as to warn that UK's health service could be "overwhelmed". The report warned that children could die earlier than their parents because of the health problems obesity causes. Over 22 per cent of people in Britain are obese and the problem has slowly tripled among children in the past 20 years.

The argument that the British industry groups under the British government's scanner are putting forth follows established lines of other "suspect" industries when confronted with issues of public health. The proposed ban would have no positive impact on obesity levels among children but would only damage the quality of television programmes made for children, the industry groups aver. Their logic: Advertisements bring in the revenues needed to produce quality children's programming.

The Commons report is just the latest of a number of studies that have come out over the last few months where questions have been raised on the ill-effects of junk food advertisement. In February, a task force of the American Psychological Association (APA) had recommended that advertisements targeting children under the age of eight be restricted.

In a compilation of studies done on children's media habits spanning nearly four years, the APA has deduced that children under eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased, leading to unhealthy eating habits.

Another study released by the California based Kaiser Family Foundation around the same time had deduced that children who spend the most time with media were more likely to be overweight.

Coming back to the Commons' report, it quotes research which shows that some 1,150 advertisements for junk food are shown daily during children's programs.

The report also criticised the food and drink industry for producing high-calorie foods and blamed the UK government also for not doing enough to reduce obesity levels.

It was in response to the criticism directed at the government that health secretary John Reid came to the decision to ban companies from targeting children with advertisements for a range of high calorie products from burgers and fries to candy and soft drinks.

A report on public health, which will contain the proposal for a ban, is scheduled to be published in the fall.

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories