When it comes to advertising, we’re pretty much all weak and susceptible. But compared to children, we adults are pillars of strength and resistance – kids are all but powerless to the siren song of a well-placed commercial. According to the UK’s foremost children’s doctor, a ban on junk food commercials airing before the 9PM watershed time period could be exactly what’s needed to curb Britain’s rising childhood obesity rates.
According to The Guardian, Dr. Hillary Cass is calling for a ban on advertising for foods with high fat, sugar, and sodium content before 9PM in order to protect children from “commercial exploitation.” This is the kind of plea that might come off looking like empty posturing or pandering from many others in the political field. But if there’s anyone qualified to comment on this topic, it just might be Dr. Cass: as both a senior pediatrician at London’s St. Thomas’s Hospital and the president of the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health, an organization which represents 11,500 child health specialists in the United Kingdom, she knows a thing or two about what’s good or harmful for the UK’s children.
According to the report, Dr. Cass’s concern is that current laws regarding advertising are too weak:
"Although they are trying to avoid junk food advertising around specific children's programmes, you've still got it around soaps and other programmes that children watch. So the only realistic way to do it is to have no junk food advertising before the watershed in any programmes at all."
"When children see the adverts they start nagging their parents to get them a McDonald's or whatever. They see something at 6pm on the telly and want a McDonald's that night. It's a similar thing to having sweets at the checkout – get to them then," added Cass.
Of course, advertising companies whose profits are tied up in how effectively they market to children (and the rest of us) are just thrilled with this plea and have already volunteered to comply – just kidding, actually the Advertising Association trade organization denounced Dr. Cass’s idea from the outset:
"This call for a watershed ignores the academic evidence and risks overlooking the real causes of childhood obesity", said Sue Eustace, its director of public affairs. "Advertising in the UK has an exemplary record in complying with one of the strictest regulatory regimes in Europe, and is already playing its part with constructive changes to the volume, visibility and content of food ads."
Meanwhile, the Food and Drink Federation has allegedly remained silent on the matter. Whether Parliament members decide to side with advertisers or doctors remains to be seen. Until then, it’s up to parents to try and curb their kids’ sugary dinner-time cravings.
[SOURCE: The Guardian]