Health Editor Madeleine Brindley at the BMA Annual Meeting in Belfast
Doctor wants ban on all advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks to children
A Senior Welsh doctor has accused companies who bombard children with junk food adverts of participating in "one of the worst forms of profit making".
Jon Osborne's comments come as doctors have backed calls for a blanket ban on all advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks to children.
The move, supported by an overwhelming number of delegates at the BMA's annual meeting in Belfast yesterday, goes considerably further than the 9pm watershed for junk food adverts proposed by the Food Standards Agency earlier this month.
Doctors backed the blanket ban, describing it as a vital weapon in the fight against childhood obesity and its long-term health consequences. They said the volume of adverts promoting high- calorie foods such as burgers and crisps, and drinks was directly linked to the growing levels of childhood obesity tin the UK.
Mr Osborne, chair of the BMA's Welsh joint consultants' committee, said, "Targeting children in advertising campaigns for unhealthy foods could be described as one of the worst forms of profit making, especially when there is good evidence that we have rising levels of Type 2 diabetes, childhood obesity, and their long-term health problems."
There is a wealth of emerging evidence to suggest that children's poor diets are, at least partially, influenced by the huge amount of advertising of high-sugar and high-fat foods aimed directly at them. Research by the Welsh Consumer Council found that parents believe foods which have brightly coloured packaging and are endorsed by celebrities, coupled with free gifts linked with film or cartoon characters, have a very influential effect on young children.
Parents also said that manufacturers of less healthy products that are high in fat, sugar, salt and food additives were likely to favour this type of advertising, knowing what effect if would have on children.