A study produced by University College London has suggested that a moratorium on junk food ads could reduce childhood obesity levels by as much as 14%.
Its authors, who include University College London’s Dr Emmanuel Stamatakis, concluded that food advertising has an unhealthy impact on the eating habits of six to 11 year olds. A total ban was considered the best way of combating this.
A total ban would build on an earlier measure which restricted the airing of such commercials during childrens programming, enacted in 2007.
Stamatakis went further however, declaring: “My view is that there is a need to ban not only all food advertising aimed at children, but all advertising aimed at children in general.”
This was justified on the grounds of children’s “vulnerability” to such ads together with the creation of “artificial needs” and “inappropriate role models.”
Findings of the study, amongst the first to quantify the effects of advertising on childhood obesity, will be published in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition next month.