Advertising Restrictions Not Addressing Junk Food Issues

UK - Restrictions on advertising ‘junk foods’ to children should not be extended because they don’t work, Dairy UK told the Westminster Forum this week.
calendar icon 21 March 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

In addition, the definition of junk food needs to be re-examined, since some milk, yogurt and cheese are put into this category by the Food Standards Agency’s Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM). Dairy products are packed with high quality protein and micronutrients which are a vital part of a balanced diet.

Speaking ahead of a crunch Commons vote next month on wide-ranging food advertising restrictions, Technical Director Ed Komorowski told the Forum that the existing Ofcom ban on prime-time junk food ads had done little to lower youth obesity. He called for a change in focus by the FSA.

“Dairy UK recognises that obesity is reaching epidemic proportions and must be tackled by government and industry together. We welcomed the Foresight Report on Obesity, which identified that obesity was multi-factorial, and had hoped for a fresh look at the problem.

“However, the current ban on prime-time food adverts imposed by Ofcom, based on the NPM, have been a blunt and ineffective tool which should not be extended.

“Children - especially teenage girls - need calcium to build strong bones so that in later life they are less likely to develop osteoporosis. Children need many other nutrients too, supplied in the number of calories which match energy expenditure. Dairy foods are nutrient dense and can help.”

Komorowski also called on the FSA to tell consumers what they should eat, through its Eatwell plate, rather than focusing on ‘unhealthy’ foods. He urged the FSA to promote a three-a-day dairy message, since research has shown that a dairy-rich diet can fight obesity.

“Promoting a balanced diet is a critical part of the solution, and until we begin to focus on this, advertising bans will only be a distraction.”

The debate in the Westminster Forum comes in preparation for a Commons debate next month on Nigel Griffiths MP’s bill to extend the TV children’s advertising watershed to 9pm. The debate takes place on 25 April.

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