‘More work needed’ after kids’ sugary food ad ban

The BMA has called for health warnings to be introduced on sugary food packaging

The ban on adverts for foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) was only the first step in reducing childhood obesity, claimed pressure group Sustain, while doctors have called for health warnings on sugary food packaging.

There would still be work to do after the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) introduces its ban on HFSS foods advertising in children’s media this weekend (July 1), said Sustain campaign co-ordinator and spokesman for the Children’s Food Campaign Malcolm Clark. The ban will apply to all non-broadcast media, where children make up at least 25% of the audience.

There were some grey areas in the new regulation, and there will be teething problems after its introduction, Clark added.

Grey areas in the new regulation

“The big thing is that we have these news rules, but there isn’t a switch that changes everything on Saturday,” Clark told FoodManufacture.co.uk. “But, the way the Advertising Standards Authority [ASA] works, is it needs people to keep a close eye on the ads, and then submit complaints.

“Then the ASA uses those complaints to clarify some of those grey areas, and issue further guidance to advertisers. So our work is not done at all.”

Meanwhile, doctors have urged regulators and health secretary Jeremy Hunt to include health warnings on the packaging of sugary foods. The British Medical Association (BMA) yesterday (June 29) unanimously agreed to push for traffic light-style warnings on foods high in sugar.

Dr Latifa Patel, who brought the motion to the BMA, said: “I’m not asking for drastic changes to packaging. A simple traffic-light system; a simple statement reminding parents and carers of the sugar content.

‘Hidden sugars in children’s foods’

“It isn’t easy, we all know about hidden sugars that lie in children’s foods. Soups, smoothies, breakfast bars, yogurts – even our fruits aren’t safe. Why not make it easy for them to make informed choices?” she said, speaking at the BMA’s annual representative meeting on June 29.

Clark welcomed the unanimous passing of the motion. The packaging could act as a deterrent in a similar way to cigarette packaging health warnings, he said.

“Given that the current rules don’t impact packaging, I think its welcome that there are organisations pushing for change,” said Clark.

“We can look to other initiatives, particularly on soft drinks in certain states in the US, and other countries looking to innovate on labelling, and we can draw parallels with cigarettes.”

New advertising rules – at a glance
  • All advertising for HFSS foods and drinks banned in all children’s non-broadcast media
  • Adverts banned in other media where children make up more than 25% of the audience
  • Adverts cannot use promotions, licensed characters and celebrities popular with children

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