Consumer groups, health advocates and advertisers have long called for a ban on television advertising unhealthy food to children. But this week The Foundation released a motion which made it clear that they wanted the BAI to take action sooner rather than later.
The Foundation stated in their motion that the Irish population has been suffering as a result of advertising unhealthy food on TV, particularly targeting children. They cited a survey which revealed that 80% of Irish parents believed commercials should be restricted and nutrition labels should be put on all foods being advertised.
The National Heart Alliance also called for an immediate ban on TV ads targeting children in Ireland earlier this year following research revealing that one in four children were overweight or obese by age 14 years old.
The Foundation and the National Heart Alliance have long called for a ban on advertising unhealthy baby food on TV. They have even gone as far as to call it a “public health emergency.” According to the Foundation and the National Heart Alliance, advertising foods that contain high fat levels is particularly bad because they can lead to obesity in children.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland is due to release its new guidelines on advertising, which will cover television but not social media or online channels. Meanwhile, some of Ireland’s biggest food brands are continuing with their television advertising for baby food despite calls for a ban.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has announced that it won’t consider a ban on television advertising of baby food high in fat, sugar and salt.
This decision is good news for the baby food industry. The Foundation says it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision.
The Foundation and the National Heart Alliance have long called for a ban on advertising unhealthy baby food on TV. Their argument has been that it might contribute to Ireland’s obesity epidemic. It is also said that the repeated viewing of such commercials could be bad for young children’s development by promoting over-eating or even weight gain.
Ireland’s television advertising watchdog, The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has decided to ban advertising for unhealthy foods aimed at babies and toddlers on TV, effective from December 2018.
The Foundation in a statement said: “We are delighted that the decision will help to protect our children from exposure to poor quality food commercials as well as obesity-promoting messages later in life.”
In 2016, the National Heart Alliance called on the Irish Broadcasting Authority to take a stand and ban TV advertising of baby food that is high in calories. The foundation and many other groups have argued that advertising makes it more difficult for parents to make healthy choices.
The National Heart Alliance has also voiced concern over the lack of nutrition information on food packaging. It is hard for parents to know where their child’s nutritional needs come from without reading the ingredients list. The foundation has also called for more Government action in response to this issue.
On July 2017, members of parliament voted unanimously against changing current law so that only non-food products could be advertised on television from January 2018.
The Foundation and the National Heart Alliance have long called for a ban on advertising unhealthy baby food on TV because it is misleading to parents, who might make false assumptions about the products being healthy when they are not.
The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland said there was a risk that certain advertisements could trigger adverse reactions in children, that are not immediately obvious to the parent. The problem is that the ads may target children who are between 12 months and 2 years old, and those aged 4-8 years old represent a considerable proportion of children in Ireland.
The ASAI has already recommended Ads for unhealthy foods to be banned from airing between 6pm and 10pm because of concerns over obesity.