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Would you like to support a campaign to end junk food advertising aimed at children?

19 replies

carriemumsnet · 22/03/2008 14:16

Which? have approached Mumsnet to see if mumsnetters would be interested in backing their Kids' Food Campaign
which calls for an end to irresponsible advertising of unhealthy products to children.

They're calling on the government to introduce restrictions on junk food advertising, including a 9pm watershed for TV advertising, in a bid to curb the ever increasing hard sell tactics used to lure children into eating unhealthily.

Former consumer minister Nigel Griffiths MP has tabled a Private Member's Bill to introduce restrictions on junk food marketing to children. It?s vital that at least 100 MPs support the Bill and attend the Parliamentary debate on the 25 April to ensure it passes to the next stage. We also need as many MPs as possible to sign a petition in Parliament (an Early Day Motion) that supports the need for tougher restrictions.

If you're interested in supporting this action, please take a minute to email your MP here, and let him know what you and other Mumsnetters think.

Thanks all

OP posts:
captainmummy · 22/03/2008 14:23

It depends on what they are considering banning -i mean some people think that Jam is unhealthy, as it is 50% sugar. Personally I think well made jam, 50%fruit/50% sugar is not an unhealthy food for growing kids.
And kids need some fats, they are essential for growth. Not the fats in Dairylea Lunchables, but those in oils and butter, for eg.

'Junk food' is a term open to misunderstanding.

Taweret · 22/03/2008 14:39

Hmmm... I shop online and negate the issue of pester power.

Or take the children shopping with me, and just say no to poor food choices.

Educating children to make healthy choices when they are responsible for their own food intake would be useful though.

I would support a campaign that put pressure on the government to provide cooking lessons and advice on balanced diets - whether it be in schools, or aimed at families.

VictorianPASqualor · 22/03/2008 14:40

I agree with captainmummy, I don't think most things are an issue in an healthy balanced diet, more often than not it's what is missing frm the diet rather than what is present IMO.

However, banning or at the least restricting advertising can only be a Good Thing.

foodfiend · 25/03/2008 22:22

Hi, I'm Jess and I work for Which? as well as lurking around on here posting about baby-related stuff.

You're right captainmummy, that it's not only a question of what's unhealthy. The problem is when 'snack' and 'treat' foods become so much part of the diet that children aren't eating the nutritious foods they need. The way many of these products are promoted - sometimes in contexts such as websites etc that we as parents may not even see - helps create an environment where it just seems normal to kids to eat crisps and chocolate every day, and never to drink anything that doesn't taste of sugar.

Have a look at the Which? website for some examples: including some of the 'good apples'.

I find it easy enough to resist the 'pester power' at the moment as my daughter's only just two, but I can see what's coming... She's already quite capable of picking out the cartoon characters on food packs. It's easier to say no when she's corralled in the trolley, but I resent the fact that these kinds of promotions will make it harder - why should every trip to the supermarket be a struggle, and why should I have to argue for a good diet?

If you're interested in the detail of what's defined as 'less healthy' there's more on the Food Standards Agency website.

It's quite complicated, in order to take into account that some foods high in fat, sugar or salt may also have good levels of beneficial nutrients. (I'm not sure how even a good-quality jam would perform, though, as jam is very high in sugar, but then I'm not sure I've ever seen an advert for jam...)

Astrophe · 27/03/2008 20:19

Well, as I'd like to see a ban on all advertising aimed at children, I'm happy to support this as a step in the right direction.

southeastastra · 27/03/2008 20:20

nope, the lack of advertising, good or bad, have forced itv to ditch children's itv programming which is a bad thing.

AbbyMumsnet · 28/03/2008 14:36


JingleyJen · 28/03/2008 14:39

I generally don't think it is a good idea to advertise anything to children but I don't want them to brand cheese as an evil food because of the high fat content etc..

moondog · 28/03/2008 14:44

I think grown people should just perhaps exercise a little restraint and control.
If you don't want yer kids eating crap then don't buy it and ignore all demands to do so.
It's not hard.
Now there's a novel idea!

No1ErmaBombeckfan · 28/03/2008 14:52

Is this the same place where Nutella was being advertised as a breakfast alternative??

Perhaps the idea of informing all about good food choices is more constructive than than trying to ban and prohibit something that has been around for as long as there has been a switch on our TVs

Wallerbies · 28/03/2008 16:11

Sign me up, I makes me angry to see all this rubbish they try and sell kids.

Whizzz · 28/03/2008 16:25

I'm not sure banning ads would help. We need decent & sustained education to explain why some food is 'junk'. McDs stopped advertising burgers & fries on TV & switched to 'milk & healthy fruit bags' but I don't recall seeing many kids actually eating the healthy fruit bags & carrot sticks in preference to a portion of chips!

I also heard on the news this morning about secondary schools trying to keep kids in at lunchtime so they couldn't go off site & buy chips etc.
We don't sell chos & sweets in the school I work at - so what happens? - Some 'bright sparks' (entrepreneurs of the future?!) buy bulk bags of choc & sell it in school at a profit to their mates !

wheresthehamster · 28/03/2008 18:36

I really despise ALL food advertising aimed at children. I HATE the cartoon characters on the packaging. I HATE free gifts in cereals. I HATE the cheap ingredients

Breakfast cereals aimed at adults - healthy muesli-types
Breakfast cereals aimed at children - between 20 and 30% sugar

Squash aimed at adults - High juice, no added ingredients
Squash aimed at children - either packed with sugar or sugar substitutes

Yoghurts aimed at adults - healthy eating, bio thingys
Yoghurts aimed at children - tiny pots of sugar

etc etc

foodfiend · 28/03/2008 21:34

Hi, Jess from Which? here.

The campaign isn't about banning advertising, or even banning all marketing to kids, but restricting the marketing of foods high in fat sugar and salt (see earlier post for the definitions) to children. Of course it's OK for children to eat high fat or high sugar foods such as cheese, butter or jam some of the time, but these are not really the issue. (They aren't products which are heavily marketed to children on the whole, either.)

At the moment I find it easy enough to use the 'off' switch, or just say 'no' to my daughter, as she's just two. As she gets older though I know it's simply not realistic to think I can control the messages she's getting during otherwise perfectly good family programmes, or when she uses the internet.

In a Which? survey we found that nine out of ten parents thought food companies needed to be more responsible in the ways they marketed food to children, and we've had hundreds of messages from parents (grandparents and teachers too) telling us how advertising and promotion makes healthy eating at home and at school much harder.

Many parents clearly aren't winning the battle - one in three UK children is overweight or obese, the worst rate in Europe. Obesity in children under 11 has risen by over 40 per cent in ten years. The government and others are putting serious resources into promoting healthy eating messages, but they're competing with enormous amounts of money spent on marketing. Restrictions are one way of trying to balance out the messages that children are getting.

artichokes · 28/03/2008 21:44

Hi JEss

An I right in thinking that Ofcom looked at this very issue recently and after much research and discussion decided that an outright ban would be detrimental to the future of children's television in the UK and to the jobs of people working in childrens programming?

I am sure I read about it not that long ago. Is this a different point or are you asking Ofcom to think again?

MrsThierryHenry · 29/03/2008 11:59

I am a parent to a 16 month old so pester power isn't an issue and won't be for a while yet (also he doesn't watch TV - ha! even though I work in TV (shhh - don't tell my colleagues!)).

I have already planned how to approach supermarket shopping when he reaches the age of pesterability, though. I agree with Tawaret that it's important to educate your children to make wise food choices. I also believe this can form part of their overall education in managing decision-making. So my plan is that when we go shopping, DS and any future siblings will be able to choose just one thing for themselves. Perhaps with a price limit. Some days (when we have more than one child) I'll alter it and make DS and his siblings negotiate to choose one thing between them, or even choose for each other.

So they'll hopefully be happy to have the independence of choosing something they want, whilst learning to make decisions, learning to negotiate, and learning how to collaborate (or what happens when you don't!).

I know it sounds high-minded at the moment but even now my DH and I are very clear about setting boundaries, and it works. Based on the way we're bringing him up now and what I've seen with older children I'm quite optimistic.

foodfiend · 29/03/2008 13:21

Yes, OfCom did look at this in 2004, and concluded that 'a total ban on food advertising would be neither proportionate nor, in isolation, effective'.

However, since then, OfCom has in fact brought in some restrictions on broadcast advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt during children?s programming, which are gradually coming into force. The change came about as a result of the Department of Health asking OfCom to look again at the issue, and the Food Standards Agency?s nutrient profiling model.

The Which? campaign, and the Bill coming before Parliament in April is in fact asking for more. Currently the rules apply only to programmes of particular appeal to children. We want to see these rules extended to the programmes kids are most likely to be watching. When Which? looked at kids' viewing last year, we found that only two out of the ten programmes most popular with under-10s were actually covered by the rules.

Crucially, the current rules also apply only to TV advertising. At the moment, other forms of promotion such as packaging, print advertising, websites etc only have voluntary codes of conduct, or no controls at all.

saggers · 30/03/2008 18:44

I'm in

carriemumsnet · 06/05/2008 12:57

Hi all

We had a message through from Which to thank all those who took action:

"A huge thank you to all those who emailed their MP to call for an end to junk food promotion to children. Thanks to your efforts, 214 MPs signed the Early Day Motion in support, and the Government has been put under pressure to take action. Although the Bill did not pass through to the next stage, we've made a vital step forward in making sure children are protected in the future, by keeping this issue high on the political agenda.

Just tackling the marketing of unhealthy foods won't end childhood obesity, but it is an essential part of any solution. Latest Which? research shows that 84% of people think the Government needs to do more to control the way unhealthy foods are marketed to children.

What next?
With your help, the Kids' Food Campaign will continue to call on the Government and food companies to take action to end irresponsible promotions of unhealthy foods to children. Childhood obesity won't disappear overnight, but every step we take brings us closer to safeguarding the health of future generations.

Thanks again for your support"

Do keep letting us know what you think about this (as we're sure you will ).

Thanks all


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