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Britain Bans Ads for Fast Food, Eggs
Erica Barnett, 24 Aug 07

hamburger and fries
Great Britain, already the birthplace of such progressive ideas as carbon labeling and the congestion tax, has long made a practice of banning advertisements that go against the nation's progressive values. Lately, Britain seems to be in the midst of an ad-banning frenzy. In addition to bans on ads for online gambling, violent video games, tobacco products, and the word "bloody" (since overturned), Britain has placed bans on several types of food that the government feels are unhealthy, especially for children. Already banned or on the chopping block are ads for:

• Junk food. A British ban on advertising for fast-food restaurants and other foods that are, according to the British Food Standards Agency, "high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar" went into effect earlier this year. The ban specifically targets children's programming, and shows that are watched predominantly by children under 16. This seems like a reasonable (if costly--the British government anticipates the loss of £39 million in TV ad revenue) restriction; here in the US, airwaves are saturated literally day and night with ads for fast-food restaurants, beef, soft drinks, and the latest candy bar. Banning ads for vices that are bad for kids, such as tobacco and alcohol, seems like a no-brainer; a whole hour of television without fast-food ads would be a godsend for everyone.

• Eggs. On a related note, Britain seems poised to ban a revival of the once-ubiquitous "Go to Work on an Egg" ads, on the grounds that eggs are too unhealthy to eat every day. "This concept of eating eggs every day for breakfast unfortunately goes against what is now the generally accepted advice of eating a varied diet," the British broadcast industry watchdog group that banned the ads said in a statement. This strikes me as more than a little silly. Eating an egg every single day might get a bit monotonous, but surely it wouldn't be a problem for a person with a healthy cholesterol level. In addition, battery cages are being banned throughout the European Union and almost half of the eggs sold in British supermarkets are free-range, making eggs in Britain a relatively humane choice as well as a healthy one.

• Infant formula. Breastfeeding is a remarkably controversial subject for something that's literally as natural as breathing. In Britain, that controversy has taken the form of a ban on advertising for formula for newborns--and a debate over whether to ban ads for so-called "follow-on" milk formulas, too. According to the BBC, "it is unclear whether a ban is likely, but it is thought that companies will no longer be able to make claims about similarity to breast milk on their packets under new restrictions." Although the usefulness of banning ads for infant formula in a nation that already has invested millions of dollars promoting breastfeeding to its population seems questionable, it makes sense that a ban against infant formula ads should encompass products that are almost identical (in name and content) to those marketed for newborn use. An international boycott effort against Nestle, the largest producer of baby formula, has gone on since the 1970s, and is particularly active in the UK.

Here's a modest proposal for British ad regulators: Ban all advertising directed at children under a certain age--say, 12. Include infants in that group, and ban ads for products their parents would buy for them to use. The result: No more ads for junk food, no more ads for formula, and you get rid of ads for plastic diapers while you're at it.

Image: flickr/captcuervo

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Comments

Sometimes I do feel we go too far and take away individual/parental responsibility and stressing education. Why should the fast food folk get to do all the good marketing? I think it's probably more effective to have programs/advertising which tells you the advantages of a balanced diet. Healthy can be sexy too, we just need to figure out how to make it so.


Posted by: Deepak on 25 Aug 07

please, for the love of god, somebody ban tampon ads.


Posted by: kristofer on 25 Aug 07

please, for the love of god, somebody ban tampon ads.


Posted by: kristofer on 25 Aug 07

Well done to the UK.gov for kicking out the unhealthy habits! Of course its not all altruistic, the government will be rewarded with reduced health care expenses. On the topic of infant formula, who in their right mind would ignore the millions (if not billions) of years of R+D in breast milk? Why take milk from another animal species to give it to our baby who is crying out for perfectly formulated breast milk accompanied by the loving touch of the mother? Infant formula goes in the same basket as C-sections, epidurals, episiotomies and induced labour - unnecessary, problematic intervention that disempowers women, ultimately interfering with the physiological loving connection between mother and child.


Posted by: Gus McLauchlan on 25 Aug 07

That is music to my ears (and eyes).

The next hurdle would be to phase out the fast-food endorsements/references in films. Easiest way to achieve this would be to ban Adam Sandler for making any more films.


Posted by: Dan Dalzotto on 26 Aug 07

There's nothing humane about pretty much any commercial egg, especially when consider all the male baby chicks ground up or otherwise sent to their deaths because they had the misfortune of being born without the ability to provide economic gain to humans (these male chicks are not the same as the ones genetically manipulated to reach enormous size in 6 weeks so that they can be sold as 'broilers').


Posted by: Eric on 26 Aug 07

There's nothing humane about pretty much any commercial egg, especially when consider all the male baby chicks ground up or otherwise sent to their deaths because they had the misfortune of being born without the ability to provide economic gain to humans (these male chicks are not the same as the ones genetically manipulated to reach enormous size in 6 weeks so that they can be sold as 'broilers').


Posted by: Eric on 26 Aug 07

There's nothing humane about pretty much any commercial egg, especially when consider all the male baby chicks ground up or otherwise sent to their deaths because they had the misfortune of being born without the ability to provide economic gain to humans (these male chicks are not the same as the ones genetically manipulated to reach enormous size in 6 weeks so that they can be sold as 'broilers').


Posted by: Eric on 26 Aug 07

I think it would be wise to remember that many women find it impossible to breast feed and must rely on infant formula. There should be more ads encouraging women to discuss options with their pediatrician for something as important as their child's health and wellfare.


Posted by: Laurettie on 26 Aug 07

I think that until Gus has given pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding a bash himself, he should reserve comment on behalf of the part of the population that has.


Posted by: Kerry on 30 Aug 07

Here is an important precendent...
"[Sweden] has prohibited all TV advertising aimed at children under the age of 12 since 1991."
"The ban was based on research that indicates children can't fully distinguish between advertising and programming until about age 10."
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0529-05.htm

-jd



Posted by: Jason Diceman on 30 Aug 07

Thanks go out to the British Gov for proving once again that adults are merely the children of the government.


Posted by: Jackson on 30 Aug 07

In case the presence of a Y-chromosome negates a post on this topic, as one who has been through two pregnancies and childbirths and more breastfeeding than I care to relate, I say "Amen to Gus!" (what a snag)
>> Infant formula goes in the same basket as C-sections, epidurals, episiotomies and induced labour - unnecessary, problematic intervention that disempowers women, ultimately interfering with the physiological loving connection between mother and child. <<


Posted by: ch on 31 Aug 07

A pedantic note - I think Singapore is more likely to be the "birthplace of... the congestion tax" - though I don't know if they were the first, either.

Good moves, I think - advertising gives an enormous advantage to the big players, and gives enormous power to deceive. If people want to buy something, they can figure out for themselves that they need it - they don't need a bunch of highly-paid marketers to convince them.


Posted by: Chriswaterguy on 31 Aug 07

i feel that am on good shape but sometimes i feel unhappy with myself


Posted by: crystal on 6 Sep 07

i feel that am on good shape but sometimes i feel unhappy with myself


Posted by: crystal on 6 Sep 07

i feel that am on good shape but sometimes i feel unhappy with myself


Posted by: crystal on 6 Sep 07

i feel that am on good shape but sometimes i feel unhappy with myself


Posted by: crystal on 6 Sep 07

i feel that am on good shape but sometimes i feel unhappy with myself


Posted by: crystal on 6 Sep 07

i feel that am on good shape but sometimes i feel unhappy with myself


Posted by: crystal on 6 Sep 07



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