ITV under pressure to drop Love Island surgery ads as 40% of women say it harms body image

In recent weeks, the channel has come under fire from both the NHS and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons

ITV is facing pressure to stop airing ads for diet supplements and cosmetic surgery during Love Island, with research from feminist campaign group Level Up finding that 40% of women who watch the show feel more self-conscious about their body image afterwards.

In recent weeks, the channel has come under fire from both the NHS and the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons for broadcasting "damaging" surgery ads from the likes of Transform, which campaigners say could impact the mental health of young viewers.

Level up has found that, after watching the show, 30% of millennial women have considered going on a diet to lose weight, while 11% have thought about getting lip fillers.

Campaigners questioned over 4,000 adults about their response to Love Island. 250 were female viewers aged 18 to 34.

8% of this demographic said watching the show had made them think about getting breast enhancement surgery, while 7% had considered getting botox for cosmetic purposes.

The numbers come as the NHS is poised to meet with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to discuss whether broadcasters should have a "more robust" duty of care to young viewers in particular when it comes to mental heath.

NHS England's mental health director, Claire Murdoch has penned a letter to ASA chief executive Guy Parker expressing concern that the promotions served around shows like ITV's summer hit could be fueling body insecurities among teens.

Of the wider group of Level Up respondents, 38% of adults agreed that reality shows like Love Island and Geordie Shore should look out for the mental wellbeing of viewers.

14% said firms like ITV were already doing enough, while a further 26% said it's wasn't the role of TV broadcasters to look after the mental wellbeing of reality TV viewers.

ITV has previously said it takes its "responsibility to viewers very seriously" and ensures ads broadcast during the show adhere to The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising's rules on the content and scheduling of advertising. It's understood a small number of surgery ads have aired this series, and The Drum has reached out for a response to Level Up's figures.

Carys Afoko, executive director of Level Up said: “ITV’s decision to sell ad space to cosmetic surgery and diet companies is downright irresponsible. There is nothing wrong with going on a diet or getting a boob job, but given the narrow standard of beauty promoted by Love Island these ads have crossed a line."

She added: “Love Island is a big money spinner for ITV, brands like Superdrug and Missguided are queueing up to sponsor the show. Level Up’s research shows women who watch Love Island find the show has a negative effect on their body image. It’s time ITV execs put viewers mental health above the bottom line and dropped cosmetic surgery and diet ads from next year’s show.”

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