Adland to assist children's food research

The advertising industry will co-operate with groups campaigning to

curb the promotion of food to children in an attempt to agree on a

common approach.



The need for closer dialogue between the ad industry and its critics was

recognised at the sixth annual conference of the Food Advertising Unit

earlier this month.



Chris Powell, the chairman of BMP DDB, who chaired the event, said: "We

need agreement on the facts and I hope that a programme of research can

now be agreed. Clearly, there is a problem with children's diets but any

approach must be evidence-based if it is going to work."



The conference heard calls for curbs on ads by the consumer groups

Sustain and the Food Commission, while speakers from Mars and Kellogg

put the food industry's case.



There were many areas of contention, but there was agreement on the need

for children to be protected; that food promotion was only one influence

on children's diets; and on the need for dialogue between interested

parties.



Grant Meekings, from the Food Standards Agency, promised to base policy

decisions on evidence.



Academics cast doubt on the role of ads in persuading children to eat

bad foods. Professor Adrian Furnham said: "Children's preferences and

understandings come from a number of sources but particularly peers,

schools and parents. There is no literature to support the case that

television advertising, or indeed any form of advertising, is a direct

route to children's preferences and eventual parental conflict."