Between the Lines: Govt should define success

The Government's ruling that the food and advertising industries draw up tough codes on junk-food ads by the summer is by no means a fudge (page 1).

John Reid, the health secretary, is attempting to force the industries to regulate themselves and has given them until early 2007 to prove that they can do it.

The signs are that food companies are prepared. McDonald's this week unveiled its new ad campaign, "it's what I eat and what I do", fronted by Venus and Serena Williams, and is adding healthy food to its Happy Meals (page 2).

It joins a high-profile list including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Kraft, which have already promised not to promote junk foods to children. The next step will be funds for a healthy-eating campaign, a move Reid would certainly smile upon.

However, what is now required from the Government is a definition of what advertisers must achieve over the next two years to satisfy it. How will the success of self-regulation be measured? Lighter, less obese children?

Declining junk-food sales?

Until the Government explains its goals, proper self-regulation from advertisers will remain intangible.