NEWS: AA refuses curbs on food ads for children

Demands for a ban on some food ads aimed at children were rejected as unnecessary by the Advertising Association during a debate in the House of Commons.

Demands for a ban on some food ads aimed at children were rejected as

unnecessary by the Advertising Association during a debate in the House

of Commons.



The AA’s head of external affairs, Jonathan Bullock, accused the

National Food Alliance, the pressure group he was sharing a platform

with, of ‘hijacking a national debate’. The NFA has called for a ban on

advertising fatty and sugary foods aimed at children.



Bullock last week told a private meeting of the Parliamentary Food and

Health Forum’s discussion group: ‘Public policy and debate must be based

on a proper understanding of the role of advertising, not upon

unsubstantiated assertions.’



He said that ads aimed at children were predominantly brand promotions

and did not influence the consumption of food, drinks or toys. Bullock

argued that they stimulated new ideas, choices and requests but did not

provoke parent-child conflict, as critics had claimed.



‘The overall benefits of advertising hold good for products and services

bought for, and by, children,’ he said. ‘Restrictions and bans

would damage children’s TV programming.’



But Joan Lestor, a member of the Labour Party’s shadow cabinet,

expressed sympathy for the view that food ads must have an impact on

children.



Meanwhile, Dr Mike Rayner of Oxford University’s Department of Public

Health and Primary Care, who is chairman of the NFA’s food advertising

working party, said tougher curbs were needed. He welcomed the

Independent Television Commission’s decision to tighten up its code on

food ads, but said he was disappointed that the Advertising Standards

Authority had not followed suit.