Doctors close Ofcom for being influenced & # 39; by the junk food industry

Doctors say media watchdog Ofcom is no longer allowed to set rules for advertisements for junk food.

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They claim that the watchdog is influenced by broadcasters and the food industry, and this can be a 21:00 & # 39; turning point & # 39; have prevented junk food ads from protecting children.

Doctors working in public health have looked at the latest important regulations for advertising unhealthy food for children, introduced in 2009.

They say Ofcom seemed to prioritize commercial considerations over children's health, and wondered if her & # 39; s duty to protect broadcasting interests & # 39; enable it to lead the regulation of public health.

Ofcom stopped bringing in a watershed, which would have banned advertisements of high-fat, sugary and salty foods before 9 p.m. when children and their parents watched programs such as talent hunt and soap.

Junk food ads during children's television programs have been banned since 2009 (photo, Gary Lineker, the face of Walkers)

Junk food ads during children's television programs have been banned since 2009 (photo, Gary Lineker, the face of Walkers)

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Although it banned junk food advertisements during programs that are likely to be viewed by four to fifteen year olds, it has postponed this ban for nearly two years following calls from industry representatives to do so.

The study, published in the BMJ Open magazine, looked at a consultation on junk food advertisements in 2006 and 2007, which received 139 responses from public health experts, politicians, campaigners, and people associated with the food and broadcasting industry.

Following the industry's enticements, new prescriptions for junk food ads were reduced during April's children's programs from April 2007 to January 2009.

The idea of ​​a watershed, proposed by the Ministry of Health and put forward in the consultation, was suspended. It was only revived in March this year by Health Minister Matt Hancock, who started a new consultation.

It is assumed that every 4.4 minutes of food advertising, compared to non-food advertising, increases the intake of people with 60 calories.

Ofcom & # 39; s own research suggested that children would see 82 percent fewer ads for unhealthy food if there was a river basin.

HOW DOES THE GOVERNMENT try to stop obesity?

Proposed plans to limit the number of calories in pizzas, pies, and ready-made meals stemmed from a series of drastic steps by the government to try to reduce obesity.

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A tax on added sugar in drinks came into force in April 2018, forcing companies to hand over more money to drinks containing more than 5 g of sugar per 100 ml of liquid.

As a result, many soft drinks have changed their recipes to prevent them from paying the tax and raising prices. Sugar-containing drinks are the largest source of sugar for children and teenagers.

The government is also considering making it mandatory for all restaurants and fast food restaurants to display the number of calories in each meal on their menu.

Some eateries already do this, but there may be unexpected amounts of calories in popular dishes and the government consults on the plans before a decision is made in the spring.

In March this year, Public Health England warned Britons to address the number of calories they eat and advise people not to consume more than 1,600 a day.

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The watchdog says adults should eat no more than 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner – this would allow some snacks, experts said.

Examples of 600-calorie meals are a pasta salad with tuna and a small bar of cereals, a chicken salad sandwich and a pack of crisps, or half a pepperoni pizza with a quarter of a baguette and a banana.

In the same announcement, PHE said that stores selling the food should reduce their portion sizes to help people make their waistline slim.

Plans are also being considered to ban junk food advertising on television before 9 p.m. to reduce the number of children exposed to it.

The study concludes: & # 39; Ofcom seemed to believe that the commercial impact of advertising regulation should have the greatest weight, even when the purpose of the regulation was to protect children's health. & # 39;

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Dr. Ahmed Razavi, lead author of the University of Cambridge study, said: & # 39; As a broadcast regulator, Ofcom may not be best placed to determine public health policies.

& # 39; The 21:00 basin is now considered a policy measure more than ten years after the first Ofcom consultation, where earlier action could have contributed to combating childhood obesity and prevented some children from becoming ill & # 39;

Barbara Crowther, campaign coordinator of the child nutrition campaign, said: & # 39; It is outrageous that Ofcom prioritized the commercial interests of the advertising industry over children's right to health and protection against exposure to all forms of damage.

& # 39; Ofcom has not taken into account the annual £ 6 billion pound cost of obesity for our NHS, and their watered down 2009 regulations still allow advertising of junk food during some of the favorite TV shows & # 39; s for children of children today. & # 39;

Ofcom first looked at the banning of advertisements for programs targeted at children aged four to nine, and then broadened this to all children under the age of 16.

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However, it stopped bringing in a river basin of 9 p.m. sugar) ads before 9 p.m. would be disproportionate? & # 39 ;.

The three doctors behind the study say that & # 39; commercial considerations appear to have led to a weakening & # 39; of the requirements.

Broadcasters and advertisers told the consultation that a 9:00 PM river basin would have a disproportionate impact on advertising revenue, would damage adult viewing and would have only marginal public health benefits.

The authors say: & # 39; Ofcom rejected the idea of ​​a prohibition before 9:00 pm because of concerns about the effect it would have on broadcasters, programming and advertising revenue. & # 39;

They stated that Ofcom has direct responsibility for the way in which advertisements are planned, and added: & # 39; This then raises the question of whether a government agency with the duty to protect the interests of broadcasters should lead the legislation on public health. & # 39; An Ofcom spokesperson said protecting children from harm is a & # 39; priority & # 39; and added that it provided all evidence & # 39; in an honest and impartial manner & # 39; considered and collaborated with health experts.

The statement added: & # 39; This change was based on expert nutrition models and resulted in a 37 percent reduction in children's exposure to this type of advertising. & # 39;

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