Campaigners from Action on Junk Food Marketing have proposed a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm, as their analysis of over 750 adverts during popular shows such as The X Factor and The Simpsons found that one in ten promoted a fast food restaurant, junk food or some kind of confectionery.
Although there are currently laws in place to protect children from targeted advertising, they only cover specific children’s TV shows that are broadcast much earlier in the day. However Action on Junk Food Marketing point out that children’s TV viewing peaks at 8pm, leaving them very susceptible to the influence these adverts can have.
The Children’s Food Campaign, a member of Action on Junk Food Marketing, have gone further in their criticism and voiced concerns about the content of the actual TV shows, noting that children are being bombarded with images of unhealthy food on a daily basis through their favourite cartoons and programmes.
A team at the University of Limerick found that 48% of foods appearing in children’s TV shows were sweets, chocolate, or classifiable as junk food, while drinks with a high sugar content made up a quarter of all liquids. This ranged from children being shown heading to a fast food shop after school to children consuming snacks and sweets throughout the day, all while remaining thin, happy and healthy: this, they believe, sends a bad message to young minds.
Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, notes that all of this food is being consumed without consequence, without any mention of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other issues that stem from eating such an unhealthy diet. He feels they should be presenting a positive food message to their viewers to encourage youngsters to eat a more balanced diet.
However, in this age of modern technology, kids are being presented with images of junk food and unhealthy eating habits everywhere they turn. As groups continue to put pressure on the government to create a solution, there remains only one sure-fire way to keep kids away from junk food adverts, and that’s to get them outside playing in the TV-free fresh air.
Along with the huge fitness benefits to be gained from outdoor play in public and school playgrounds, kids learn to socialise more, make friends and can easily soak up plenty of sun’s vitamin D bounty. It’s the perfect way to help them get active and it’s not just for kids either. Outdoor fitness gyms and play areas are great for teens and adults too, so inspiring your youngster to get into this healthier habit can help them sustain a lifelong passion for exercise.