Advertising and marketing have, over the years, been accused of encouraging and even causing obesity. This has led to frequent attempts to introduce statutory regulation or even prohibition of the advertising of certain foods. Through the Food Advertising Unit, the Advertising Association has unified the industry and presented the industry case in consultation responses and research papers.
Our studies demonstrate the complex nature of social problems such as obesity and poor diet, and the negligible effect advertising has. We recently moved onto the Front Foot, highlighting the positive role advertising can play in encouraging healthier lifestyles through the business4life initiative.
Understanding and Predicting Childhood Obesity
Commissioned by the FAU
This research by Volterra, updated to take into account the latest obesity figures and commissioned by the FAU, is a contribution to the obesity debate. In summary:
- this research focuses on the role of "peer acceptance" as a significant factor in the obesity debate
- peer acceptance is about people continuing in modes of behaviour because other people within their social groups do, which makes the behaviour more acceptable within the peer group
- the analysis is based on scientifically validated "viral" methodology, widely used in understanding and predicting the spread of epidemics
- the analysis shows that peer acceptance gives a good understanding of the rise of obesity in the last decade, though this is of course not the only factor
- more research is needed and has been fielded, but this initial study shows that unless peer acceptance is given sufficient weight, policy recommendations or interventions may not be fully effective
- the AA's FAU has commissioned this report to provide a contribution to the obesity debate: by acknowledging and understanding the importance of peer acceptance, we can gain valuable insights for marketers, advertisers, and policy makers.
Read the full report...
16 November 2009
AA response to NICE Guidance on Cardiovascular disease
The Advertising Association response to NICE Draft Guidance on Cardiovascular disease. The sumbission relates to Recommendations 2, 10 and 11.
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Interim Review of the Media Landscape: Food Advertising Changes in Context
In this industry submission from our Food Advertising Unit to the Government's 2007 interim review of food and soft drink advertising and promotions, we examine the relationship between the media environment - including advertising - and obesity. Obesity is a hugely important and multi-faceted social issue, and we argue that the increase in obesity can be attributed to a complex range of inter-relating causal factors. We note that both Ofcom and the Food Standards Agency have acknowledged this, with advertising comprising only three of the 91 recommendations in the Government's 2004 Choosing Health White Paper. Advertising is an easy target, but advertising bans have unintended consequences and will have a negligible impact on obesity levels.
Read the report...