Nicola Proud, Friday January 8, 2016
There’s so much talk of diets, detox, lifestyle changes and health plans you can’t forget for one second that it’s January. So as we start another year I’ve been thinking lots about my own eating and exercise habits.
This includes the lifestyle of our children as I strongly believe the education we give them whilst they are young will set them up for their future eating decisions. However I can’t ignore the fact that outside influencers also play a massive part in their lifestyle choices as they get older and they are able to make more decisions for themselves. So for my first 2016 blog I’m sharing what I would love happen when it comes to marketing to children in an ‘ideal world’.
To set the scene I wanted to share a statistic from a piece of research by the University of Stirling which revealed that 75% of all food and drink marketing seen by 11-18 year olds was for unhealthy food.
- Ban online advertising
There’s been lots of debate around an expected ban on online advertising of junk food to kids. This is something I completely agree with as children become so enticed by food marketing. More and more time is spent online and even some of the girls’ homework is completed via the Internet so I hope this is something we see being approved this year.
- No advertising junk food pre-9pm
A few months ago, the British Heart Foundation called for a ban on junk food TV advertising pre 9pm and this was firmly backed by celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. I lose count of the number of adverts I see promoting foods high in sugar and these adverts make junk foods and drinks look so appealing and attractive to young people. Sometimes you feel like you are constantly saying ‘no’ but if we weren’t put in this position in the first place it would make our lives as parents much easier.
- More responsibility from supermarkets
Supermarkets are absolutely brilliant at positioning products around the store which will attract young people’s attention. For years we have seen chocolate and sweets next to the till to lure in children and stressed out mums whilst they pack the shopping away. A few months ago I read how a local Tesco store was giving away free fruit to keep children quiet whilst parents shopped. It’s little things like this I would love to see more of. The research by the University of Stirling also highlighted that 80% of the products that young people picked up at checkout promotions were high in fat, salt or sugar
- A ban on cartoon characters to promote unhealthy foods
Over the last few months I’ve been helping to promote the much-loved Herbie the Carrot who is the healthy eating mascot in North Yorkshire. Not only do I have very fond memories of Herbie, I love what he stands for and I’ve even had old school friends telling me that this character was the genuine reason they stayed for school meals over 25 years ago. It just shows the power a popular children’s character can have. I’d love to see a ban on the use of cartoon characters to promote unhealthy products so they are less appealing to children.
- Stop the mixed marketing messages
There are so many mixed messages from food brands on what is actually healthy and this is something we’ve all battled with for many years. I often hear things like “I’ll have a healthy cereal bar” despite these being so high in sugar. Food brands do need to sell more of their products but it’s extremely confusing when companies have such different messages on the best way to lead a healthy lifestyle.
I’d love to know what you think so feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with me via Twitter @digitalginge or email firstname.lastname@example.org.