The advertising industry will co-operate with groups campaigning to
curb the promotion of food to children in an attempt to agree on a
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
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."