Anyone who thinks banning advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar will have the slightest impact on childhood obesity is likely to be in for a shock 10 years down the line when little has changed.
Despite government warnings about the risk of obesity-related illnesses, people are not making enough conscious decisions to get healthy. The market for diet products and health foods is at an all-time high and information about healthy eating and lifestyles fills thousands of newspaper column inches, yet obesity levels continue to rise in tandem. This indicates that healthy food is not the only solution to curbing obesity, and that a holistic approach to healthier living is needed if progress is ever to be made.
With the government under pressure to lower rates of childhood obesity, it is likely that further intervention is on the cards. So what will it do next?
The FSA is already backing traffic-light labelling, which gives a red light to foods that are high in salt, sugar and saturated fat to guide people about what products they should eat and those they should avoid. But it is unlikely to stop there. In the future, products that fail under the Nutrient Profiling Model could be subject to much tighter restrictions. Manufacturers of these foods may not being able to give away free samples, conduct product tastings in supermarkets or even describe their products in a positive way because of the risk that it may be picked up by a child.
The government is even considering whether to intervene in the lives of children it classes as special cases because of their weight. This came to light following news that eight-year-old Connor McCreaddie, who weighs more than 14 stone (pictured), could be taken into care.
Obesity is not just a childhood illness. Nearly a quarter of adults are now classed as clinically obese. But banning nutritious products from advertising to children is not going to change the statistics. What will is tackling the problem in a holistic way - not relying on the very medium, ie the television, that is promoting sedentary lifestyles and therefore obesity in the first place.