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Junk Food To Be Banned From Kids’ TV

Saturday, February 24th, 2007 at 10:33 by Sue Stewart

Ofcom - officially known as “the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries” and unofficially known as “those tossers who should ban/should never have banned that advert” - have announced that from 1 April this year, junk food adverts will be banned from kids’ programmes.

“You can’t please all of the people all of the time” is a great old platitude, but in the case of trying to regulate junk food, it seems that you can’t please any of the people any of the time.

The argument about 1) which programmes should be targeted 2) exactly what constitutes “junk food” and 3) how you’re going to enforce the ban, has gone on for ages already - not least because kids watch all kinds of TV at all kinds of hours, for all kinds of reasons. As a native of the town where “old slappers” (thanks for that, Jamie Oliver) habitually shove burgers through school railings to feed the starving hordes within, I’ve been watching this with some interest.

Health campaigners argue that the wording “[childrens’ programmes and] shows of particular appeal to viewers under 16″ is still too vague, especially as the “under 16″ bit won’t actually come into force until January 2008. This year, it’s only being applied to kids aged 4 to 9. (The health food lobby originally wanted a ‘watershed’ ban on all junk food advertising and are extremely miffed that their proposal didn’t succeed.)

The food industry, on the other hand, argues that the FSA’s nutrient profiling (oh, they really want to sound like the FBI, don’t they?) is equally vague and that ‘healthy’ (but high in sugar) raisins are as likely to be banned as ‘unhealthy’ (high in fat and salt) burgers and chips.

Hmm - I can’t see it myself. Raisins certainly are high in sugar (and don’t get me started on preservatives and all that stuff), but I think kids pestering for a box of California raisins isn’t too high on the list of parental nightmares. McDonalds and chocolate, on the other hand….

Perhaps they should just ban food advertising altogether. That way, the kids wouldn’t be led astray by Ronald McThingummy and the dastardly Cadbury’s mob, parents wouldn’t be tempted by convenience foods - and I wouldn’t have to watch Jamie Oliver or those bloody smug M&S Food adverts that make me want to chuck bricks at the TV.

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