Spectre of celebrity ban in junk food ads raises its head again

LONDON - The use of celebrities and cartoon characters in ads to promote junk food to children may be banned if new proposals come into force.

"Role models for children should not be used to endorse nor promote products [high in fat, salt or sugar]," a Department of Health advisory document said.

The proposals were drawn up by independent body the Food Standards Agency, which is reviewing a voluntary code for cinema ads, the internet and packaging aimed at under-12s.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom will also announce its plans for similar restrictions on TV within the next few weeks.

The proposals could lead to the end of campaigns such as that promoting Golden Nuggets cereal, which uses characters from animated film 'The Incredibles', Walkers crisps advertising starring Gary Lineker and Pepsi ads featuring David Beckham.

The sales promotion sector could also be hit hard by the proposals, which may also bring an end to film tie-ins, where movie releases are linked to food brands.

Last year, the FSA urged celebrities not to endorse junk food to children. It said that as role models they have considerable influence over children. Many appear not to have listened as their presence in food advertising remains large.

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