The Food Standards Agency has commissioned academics to explore the impact of advertising on children's eating habits in a move that could have far-reaching implications for food manufacturers.
Professor Gerald Hastings, leading the research at Strathclyde University, said: "Our report will certainly have implications for the industry, particularly for the manufacturers."
Ministers have been repeatedly questioned by MPs and peers about whether the government's policy on healthy eating for youngsters has been undermined by the food industry. Hastings' report ­ due out in July ­ would help get to the nub of the issue, said DoH spokeswoman Baroness Andrews. "We are painfully short of information on the link between food promotion and eating behaviour."
The move follows Stourbridge MP Debra Shipley's attempts to canvass support for a Bill proposing restrictions on advertising of fat, sugary or salty foods to the under-fives, and a pledge from the food industry to reduce salt levels in processed food after the FSA this week raised concerns.
n As predicted last week (May 10, p30), the FSA has called on the food industry to help consumers cut their intake of salt. It has also set salt targets for children for the first time. The Food and Drink Federation said its members would cut sodium by 10% in ambient soups and sauces by the end of 2003. But the FSA urged all processors and retailers to set targets for salt reduction.

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