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Junk food advert ban up for debate

By Editor
13th May 2016
Good practice, Latest news Type 2 prevention

Banning junk food adverts aimed at children is being considered in a bid to reduce childhood obesity which is associated to type 2 diabetes. 

Rules to restrict posters and online advertisements advertising unhealthy foods aimed at under 16s are being considered by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP).

The industry regulator has opened a public consultation about extending the existing ban on TV commercials to all media, including online outlets.

Recent figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre suggests that one in five children in England is obese by the end of primary school.

Responsible advertising

James Best, the chairman of CAP, said: “Too many children in the UK are growing up overweight or even obese, potentially damaging their health in later life and imposing a high cost on society.

“Advertising is just one small factor in a very complex equation but we believe we can play a positive part in addressing an urgent societal challenge.

“In proposing new rules, our aim is to strike the right balance between protecting children and enabling businesses to continue advertising their products responsibly.”

The regulator is focusing on non-broadcast because of the popularity of the internet among young people.

Research from Ofcom, showed that in 2015, 96 per cent of 12 to 15 year-olds spent more time online than watching television.

Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, which in turn increases their risk of developing serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease

The Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of over 30 leading national health charities, campaign groups, and royal medical colleges, including Diabetes UK, has responded to the proposal.

In a joint statement it said: “Although the proposals in the consultation launched today by the Committee of Advertising Practice acknowledge the need for tighter controls, the overall recommendations fall short of what is needed to tackle the relentless marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks seen by children.

“Constant exposure to unhealthy food and drinks on TV, radio, the internet, social media, in magazines, and for some even at school makes it very difficult to children and their families to make healthy choices and greatly influences the food they eat.

“Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, which in turn increases their risk of developing serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

“These conditions have a devastating human impact and also place a huge financial burden on our already stretched health service. This is why we need tough and far reaching action to protect children from harmful advertising and to give them the best possible chance of a healthy future.

“While we welcome the opportunity for consultation on this area, the Government has rightly declared that childhood obesity is a national emergency so we need a game changing approach to tackle it.”

It is hoped individuals and organisations, who have an interest or expertise in the policy issues involved, will contribute to the consultation which closes at 5pm on Thursday, July 22.

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