Advertising & obesity

Advertising & obesity

Obesity has become an increasingly difficult problem, especially among youth. All facets of society have proposed ideas on how to combat the issue, including education campaigns, research into the impact of media on children and restrictions or bans on food marketing.

IAA Position
Advertising did not cause the obesity problem, but it can be part of the fabric of overall solutions to encourage healthy lifestyles. There are many companies and groups seeking ways to educate consumers on how to live healthy lifestyles. Many companies have introduced or reformulated thousands of food products to make them even more nutritious. Advertising can be used for positive change, such as campaigns
from the Ad Council in support of physical activity. The self-regulatory work done by the self regulatory organizations such as Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the National Advertising Division, and the European Advertising Standards Alliance help ensure that all advertising is fair and accurate. Restricting advertising of food products to certain groups, or all advertising of certain food products will not address the underlying need to increase the amount of consumer information available on the products that consumers choose to consume everyday as part of their lifestyle.

We must always remember that advertising is just one part of a much wider issue. For instance, obesity levels in Sweden are no lower than in many other European countries where advertising is not banned or even where it is subject to very “light” regulations. For example, obesity levels among Swedish adolescents have also been increasing.

In the UK, Ofcom points out that research has shown that television advertising of food and drink products only has a modest direct effect on children’s food preferences.

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, IAA Vice President - Government relations & self-regulation.