by Marion Nestle
Nov 13 2007

British restrictions on TV advertising are not working

Out of the United Kingdom comes news that its new policies designed to restrict food advertising to children are not working. They were not nearly restrictive enough. Most programs watched by young children are not affected by the rules, and food companies have figured out ways to continue business as usual. Lessons to be learned?

  • BadKarma

    How’s this sound, you shrill, screechy, Veganist Jihad whore: Prohibition doesn’t work. Been tried. All it did the first time was increase violence and enrich the Mafia. What exactly makes you Food Stasi sickos think anything will be different this time around?

  • We go to Britain fairly often to visit my husband’s family. I have the opportunity to eat in family homes as well as out in town (I like bangers without mash at pubs, though my favorite place is Fergus Henderson’s nose-to-tail eating at St. John Restaurant) and I usually go into a grocery store at least once every trip. My observation is that despite a seemingly more “health-aware” public and easier access to organic, local, and seasonal foods if one wants them (the “state” has been aggressively campaigning with their misguided efforts to reduce dietary fat overall and saturated fat in particular), the British kids are often overweight and underfit for much the same reasons as the American kids, despite everyone’s considerable efforts.

    Like in the US, kids in Britain eat too much processed packaged food, too much “take-away” (fast food), and too much sugar (including fructose) and starches in proportion to overall food intake. I thought it was bad in the US but in Britain they are drowning in sugar and starch. Chips (thick or thin French fries) or crisps (potato chips) or rice come with everything, sometimes topped with floury gravy and many “quick” proteins such as fish are batter dipped (or worse yet, fish “fingers” – fish meal glued together). the national sweet tooth is pretty extreme, too. Even more than in the US, one is served massive amounts of sugar and starch with everything. Salad dressings are almost always processed and made with soybean or canola oil.

    I find it easy to order salad instead of starchy sides (and the salads have been improving to include mixed greens instead of the ubiqutious iceberg). So without making a big deal of it, it is very easy to eat a low sugar and low starch diet in Britain if one wants to, because there are also some great local and regional specialties that have sustained the British communities since long before the industrial age foods of cheap refined sugars and starches and chips and jam with everything.

    In fact recently, I became aware that cheese is now one of the advertisement-restricted foods during children’s television programming! Yet some sugary cereals manage to make the legal definition of “healthy”.

    Cheese! I know processed cheese isn’t even a real food and shouldn’t be marketed to anyone, but OMG, Britain has some of the world’s finest cheeses and they are deemed too unhealthy to advertise on children’s television because they have fat in them. What is the world coming to? They should be encouraging British kids to consume the local cheeses, not discouraging. How the heck do they expect the next generation to keep the cheese making traditions going? Real cheese, especially made locally from well-tended pastured herds which is a natural in Britain, is a great companion to fruit slices and veggies, and can be a wonderful starter or a cap to a meal as a dessert. And it doesn’t need a cracker!

    I think I’ll go have some nice creamy pungent real British Stilton and Monterrey, CA walnuts halves (grown and shelled by an 80+ yo lady) on locally grown fall crop apple slices to get over this. Probably considered emotional eating, though. But it’s a great lunch all the same. Just hold the chips and jam.

  • Ramona

    I spent most of my 54 years dieting, vegan, vegatarian, exercise-all kinds, kept my smoking below half a pack a day. And you know what? Since the late 70s when you nut buckets started harrassing everyone, I still smoke, don’t exercise, eat meat, read till late at night AND I AM A LOT HAPPIER! My greatest fear is that I’ll live to be old-old-old sitting in a diaper, warehoused with a bunch of old people, cursing the Universe BECAUSE I DIDN’T DIE A HELL OF A LOT SOONER!

  • Russ

    I agree with Ms Nestle. The problem is not the food. It is the people eating it. They simply lack the morality and willpower to eat right and exercise. The solution is to demonize fat and obese people just like we did with smokers.

    First, if any fat person wants a desert in a restaurant or public place they should be given a paper plate and told to eat it outside on the sidewalk with the smokers. Why should thin people have to be anoyed by their pig like stuffing themselves. It is for their own good.
    Second, keep fat people off of escalators – they can take the stairs – it will teach them how to exercise.
    Third, triple health insurance as a special tax on the overweight. We know fat causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease and joint deterioration to themselves and to children. Why should responsible moral people have to pay for a treatment that could be avoided by responsible life styles.

    Fourth, Do not allow children to ride in an automobile with a fat person in it. The children will learn bad habits and the fat people will probably give junk foods to the children while sitting in the car. A double whammy

    Fifth, Ban fat people from appearing in movies. We do not need any fat people portrayed as glamorous or friendly. You could however allow fat people to be in movies if they are being portrayed as dying drug addicted child preditors. A second part to this would be no desrt eating should be shown in a movie.

    Politicians. Obviously no one should be allowed to run for office with a BMI over 22.

    the time for action is now for the sake of the children and our own well being.

    It worked so well with smokers, lets get it on for the obese and make this a better planet for future generations.

  • Love it, Russ. Glad to see that someone else has noticed all the fat- and obesity-bashing. Oh my, some days my BMI is 22.1, guess it’s time to bash myself (or get rid of that digital scale :-).

  • Demethesis

    What do you think about politics and food? The first time around, when the government had their hand in food was in 77, with Committee of Nutrition headed by Senator McGovern. They said to cut down red meat and dairy, but the industries retaliated. So he made a compromise and instead said, ”Choose meats, poultry and fish that will reduce saturated-fat intake.”

    It doesnt seem like a lot of change in the wording, but it sure as hell made a lot of difference with the way people ate then.

    What does that tell you about the “Nutritionary Guidelines of America” (or however its called nowadays) ?

  • Ms Nestle — and her fellow food fascists as well — should give up their American citizenship, leave the United States, go move to Cuba — where the austere rations are more in line with HER personal malnutritional guidelines — and leave us common folks alone. It’s MY GOD GIVEN RIGHT — BACKED BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA — TO EAT WHATEVER I WANT, WHEREVER I WANT, WHENEVER I WANT, HOWEVER I WANT — WITHOUT ANY HARASSMENT FROM NINNY-NANNY NEOCOMMUNISTS LIKE Ms Marion and her fellow cohorts at the Centre for so-called “science” in the so-called “public” so-called “interest” should be arrested for violating the Racketeer and Influence Corrupt Organisation (RICO) Act because they are committing crimes by intimidating food companies!