Food Law News - UK - 2003

FSA Press Release (2003/0430), 9 November 2003

CHILDREN'S FOODS - Promotion of food and children's diets

The Food Standards Agency has today published a discussion paper on possible options for action on the promotion and advertising of foods that could improve children's diets and health.

Action under consideration includes research, building on existing guidance, best practice, and new regulation. These measures could cover sponsorship, advertising, labelling, endorsements, in-store activity and loyalty schemes.

The Board of the Agency will decide next year, following public debate, which policy options it wishes to recommend to Government.

In September 2003, the Agency published a comprehensive, peer-reviewed, independent research project 'Does Food Promotion Influence Children? A Systematic Review of the Evidence', carried out by Professor Gerard Hastings. His review concluded that advertising to children does have an effect on children's food preferences, purchase behaviour and consumption, and that these effects occur not just at brand level, but also for different types of foods.

Full details of the options, along with the research and background information, can be found at the link below.

Sir John Krebs, Chair of the Food Standards Agency, said:

'We already know that many children's diets contain more fat, sugar and salt than is recommended. We know that the level of obesity in children is rising and, in the words of the Chief Medical Officer, is a health time bomb that could explode. By 2010 it could cost £3.6 billion a year and be a very significant factor in the ill health of thousands of people and their families. This is why the Agency is encouraging a wide debate on the options for action that could make a difference. Doing nothing is not an option.'

Current figures show that 8.5% of 6 year olds and 15% of 15 years olds are obese (Health Check Chief Medical Officer's Annual Report 2002) and it is predicted that by 2010 obesity will cost the nation some £3.6 billion a year (Tackling Obesity in England, National Audit Office 2001).

The Agency intends to discuss the options paper at length with consumer groups, retailers, the food and advertising industries and other interested parties. The Agency is also drawing up plans for a public meeting, to be held in London in January 2004. The event is intended to capture the views of a broad spectrum of people, groups and bodies. Full details will be issued at a later date.

The Food Standards Agency Board will consider the outcomes of the public debate and discuss the options available at their open meeting in February, once these activities have been completed.

The following notes are added:

Health Check Chief Medical Officer's (CMO) Annual report recommendations:

For a summary of the main report, go to:

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