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Government must act on kids’ food promotion

Which? reacts to new Department of Health report

The government must work with the food industry to develop a robust code for promoting food to children, Which? says today.

The Department of Health  says fewer children are being exposed to junk food advertising on TV, but its research also reveals Press advertising rose 42% in 2007 compared with 2003, from £4.7 million to £6.7 million. 

It also found overall annual spend for food and drink advertisements aimed at children fell 41%, from £103 million in 2003 to £61 million in 2007.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: ‘A third of children in the UK are either overweight or obese – so it’s essential that we help our children make healthy choices in what they eat. The food and drink industry has a huge role to play in this.

‘I am pleased there are now fewer ads on TV that are tempting our children into bad eating habits – but we must keep our eye on other types of media.’

Healthy food promotions

Clare Corbett, Food Campaigner, Which?, said: ‘This report provides yet more evidence that the government must work with the food industry to develop a robust code to restrict all types of promotions of less healthy foods to children. To ‘keep our eye’ on things simply isn’t enough.

‘We’re not anti-advertising, nor do we think that restricting less healthy food promotions is the single remedy to end childhood obesity and diet-related disease, but it is one area which must to be tackled to make the healthy choice easier for parents.

‘Food companies need to use their creativity more responsibly to promote their healthier product ranges to children. Our latest reports show that some companies are already moving towards this, it’s now time for others to follow suit and for Government to take some decisive action on areas outside TV.’

You can find out more about the Which? kids’ food campaign here.

Kids’ food campaign

As part of its kids’ food campaign Which? is calling for:

  • The Government to provide clearer direction on the need to limit irresponsible marketing of less healthy foods to children and to work with industry and other stakeholders to develop and introduce restrictions covering the wide range of non-broadcast methods, such as product packaging, sponsorship and the internet, that are used to target less healthy foods to children.
  • The CAP and BCAP groups to strengthen their codes significantly to demonstrate that they are committed to playing a responsible role in the fight against childhood obesity. The revised CAP code (following the review this year) should cover all types of promotions including the use of company-owned cartoon characters, be based on the FSA’s nutrient profiling model (to distinguish healthier/less healthy foods), and cover all children up to 16.
  • The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to create a CAP advisory group with effective consumer representation.
  • Individual food companies to act responsibility by developing and marketing healthier products to children and ending irresponsible promotions of foods that conflict with dietary recommendations.

For tips and advice on healthy kids’ food, read our Which? guide How to get your children to eat healthily .

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