Parliament inquiry questions ad chiefs over child food ban

Three prominent figures from the advertising world are to give evidence to a Commons inquiry into whether food and drink commercials aimed at children should be banned.

Cilla Snowball, the chief executive at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Bruce Haines, the group chief executive at Leo Burnett, and Andrew Brown, the director-general of the Advertising Association, will be quizzed on 13 November by the all-party Health Select Committee, which is investigating the problem of obesity.

Next week's hearing follows an attack on the ad industry in the Commons on Tuesday, when the Labour MP Debra Shipley accused it of washing its hands of the issue. "The advertising industry says this is not its problem, that advertisers are just a convenient target for politicians," she said.

The MP introduced a Private Member's Bill to ban ads for food and drinks high in salt, sugar and fat during children's TV. Although it won an unopposed first reading, it has little chance of becoming law owing to a lack of Parliamentary time.

Shipley said: "The food and drink industry is allowed to ruthlessly and cynically target small children with products that are way above what is good for their health."

Jenny Preston, the director of the industry-funded Food Advertising Unit, said: "It is vital that any action plan is practical, sustainable and deliverable."