UK pressure group Sustain will announce at a major conference on obesity called by the National Audit Office today (Monday), that more than 50 national public interest organisations have confirmed their support for Sustain’s campaign calling for legislation to protect children from the advertising and promotion of unhealthy foods. 

Sustain will also explain how current voluntary codes of advertising practice fail to protect children from commercial messages which promote fatty, sugary and salty foods, directly to children. 

Support continues to grow from professional organisations representing medical and health interests and from organisations concerned about the affect of unhealthy food promotions on children’s current and longer term health. Among the 50 to be revealed today are British Heart Foundation, Royal College of Physicians, UNISON and World Cancer Research Fund.

At a time when rates of childhood obesity are rising at unprecedented levels, medical opinion is clear that children should be encouraged to eat fewer high fat snacks such as crisps and snacks, biscuits and confectionery.  However, Sustain’s ‘TV Dinners’ research, found that up to 99% of food advertisements on children’s television are for high fat, high sugar or high salt foods, creating a conflict with dietary recommendations and undermining efforts of parents and professionals to encourage healthier patterns of eating.

Charlie Powell, Project Officer at Sustain, commented: “The weight of professional opinion, taken together with the strong parental support for controls on food advertising aimed at children, represents a powerful force for change.

“The campaign for legislation to protect children from commercial pressures to choose fatty, sugary or salty foods is gaining momentum.”