I've been watching in amusement this week as our cousins in the advertising industry get their knickers all twisted about the ban on advertising junk food. Paul Bainsfair claims the ban would have almost no effect on obesity rates. This is in the same week that Henry Dimbleby's National Food Strategy makes the case for feeding up to 1/3 of the children in the country with free school meals to give them the nourishment they need. Staggering.
If one accepts that obesity is at least partly caused by junk food (there's evidence that there are lots of contributing factors like genetics etc) and still maintains that it has no effect, Mr Bainsfair appears to be arguing that advertising doesn't work.
Whether it works or not is moot. The ad and media industry needs to catch the zeitgeist and be a little more picky about what they peddle. Junk food is junk. It makes people fat, it makes people ill and the sweet stuff rots teeth. Why would we want our best creative minds deployed in persuading people to buy food that is no good for them?
Junk food, like tobacco is impossible to ban. But it places a burden on all of us and literally kills those who consume too much. Obesity aside, we need to educate the country to feed children properly. This shouldn't be a legal issue, it's about ethics.
Paul Bainsfair, director general of the IPA, said he was “deeply disappointed” by the proposals which “disregard the evidence” that the ban would have almost no effect.