Campaigners who are pressing for heavier controls on TV ads promoting
sweets and snack foods to children want to end their long-running feud
with the Advertising Association by co-operating with it in a joint
The offer follows yet another clash between the two groups over a newly
published Government report on the influence of TV advertising on
children’s eating habits. It was made by Geoffrey Cannon, the chairman
of the National Food Alliance. ‘Yahboo is a great spectator sport but
it’s not in the public interest,’ he said.
The move brought a positive response from Andrew Brown, the AA’s
director general: ‘We’re not averse to the idea as long as everybody
agrees the ground rules.’
The peace offering comes in the wake of independent research
commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that the
AA says vindicates its argument that advertising does not encourage
children to eat unhealthy food.
The NFA, an umbrella organisation for pressure groups that are calling
for tighter restrictions on food ads aimed at children, has dismissed
The AA bases its claim on the MAFF report’s conclusion that there is ‘no
evidence to suggest advertising is the principal influence on children’s
AA executives have always accused the NFA of exaggerating the influence
of advertising on children’s choice of food, arguing that parents and
peer group pressure are equally influencial.
But the NFA played down the MAFF report. It says the research is not
original, rather a review of existing material that does not cover the
effect of advertising on children under the age of five.
Cannon, who has already discussed the idea of greater collaboration with
John Hooper, the director general of the Incorporated Society of British
Advertisers, said he planned to follow through the idea of a joint study
into the eating habits of the under-fives.