On 10 October, former Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, published her report Time to Solve Childhood Obesity, which included a series of measures she wishes to see implemented to cut rates of childhood obesity in the UK. These include recommendations relating to advertising. Responding to the report, the Advertising Association commented:
“Blanket advertising bans, such as those recommended in this report, have been shown to have little impact on the wider issues in society that drive obesity. It also contains clear inaccuracies in statements such as ‘children are constantly exposed to advertising for unhealthy food and drink’. In fact, advertising for high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) food and drink is already banned in media where children made up more than 25% of the audience, whether online, in the street, or on public transport. Adverts for these products are also restricted in and around TV programmes commissioned for, or likely to appeal to children and the rules have led to significant falls in exposure of under-16s to HFSS advertising since they were originally introduced in 2007.
“The report also neglects to highlight the ways the UK advertising industry is positively tackling the issues of childhood obesity such as ITV’s commitment to The Daily Mile initiative which is showing real, tangible results. A great example of this continued effort by industry is today’s announcement by Channel 4, ITV and Sky that they are joining forces on a £10m TV drive to encourage healthy eating and exercise. Practical initiatives like these will be far more effective in promoting a healthy lifestyle than new rules and excessive bans that would be difficult to enforce and have little-to-no effect UK childhood obesity rates.”