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Junk food ad ban urged by Scottish ministers in bid to tackle obesity
Mar 18 2012 by Mark Aitken, Sunday Mail
JUNK food ads face being banned from prime-time TV in a bid to curb childhood obesity.
The Scottish Government have demanded that adverts for products high in fat, sugar and salt are not shown before the 9pm watershed.
Junk food and sugary snacksads are already banned during children’s TV programmes.
But ministers fear thatyoungsters are being influenced in their eating habits by adverts shown during talent shows such as The X Factor and soaps.
Westminster Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has been urged by Scottish ministers to introduce a ban across the UK.
But, if he refuses, the Scottish Government will move to introduce a ban north of the border.
Scottish Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “Broadcast advertising influences the choices made by children and can shape their attitudes to food as they grow into adulthood.
“Tackling obesity andencouraging people to make healthier life choices is one of the most important things we can do to improve the health of our nation.”
Products banned before the watershed would likely include burgers, chicken nuggets, fries, cereals high in sugar, crispsand chocolate.
The ban would affect firms such as Mars, McDonald’s, Cadbury and KFC, who between them spend up to £200million a year in advertising in the UK.
The move by the Scottish Government has been welcomed by health professionals.
Jane Landon, of the National Heart Forum, said: “The crisis in children’s dietary health urgently demands bolder measures.
“Moving up to a watershed restriction will help achieve the original policy aim to reducesubstantially children’s exposure to advertising for foods high in fat, sugar and salt.”
Dr Sally Winning, of the doctors’ union BMA Scotland, said: “We are concerned that children receive a huge amount of attention from food advertisers, with a marked discrepancy between the foods marketed at children and their nutritional quality.”
But the UK government last night said advertising had only a “modest” impact on children’s decision to tuck into fast food.
They added: “We believe the current rules are aproportionate and balanced contribution to the wider range of measures aimed at tackling childhood obesity and poor diet.”
AdvertisingAssociation spokesman Ian Barber said: “This idea has the potential to be very damaging to broadcasters and it is unnecessary as all evidence suggests it is not going to make any difference.”
Scottish Labour’s Jackie Baillie said: “At a time when we have lost 2000 nurses and our hospitals are crumbling, I am amazed the SNP are picking a fight about what time we can show McDonald’s TV ads.”
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