Food firms still marketing unhealthy products to children

In collaboration with the Press Association

A new report from consumer watchdog Which? has revealed that many food companies are still not curbing their marketing of unhealthy foods to children despite repeated calls for them to do so. Chief policy adviser Sue Davies said that some companies are still acting irresponsibly and described their stated commitments to stop marketing to children as "hollow". Although 88 per cent of consumers want the food industry to act more responsibly, Which? analysts found that some companies are using social networking sites such as Facebook and You Tube, text message competitions, and viral promotions to tempt children, while others are still using traditional methods such as celebrity endorsements and cartoon characters.

Commenting on the findings, which are contained in the 'Food Fables - the second sitting' report, Ms Davies said: "We're not against treats and we're not against marketing, but we are against irresponsible company practices and hollow company commitments. "You just have to walk around any supermarket to see the wealth of cartoon characters persuading children to pick the less healthy option," she continued. "Tackling the obesity problem demands action in many areas to make healthy choices easier. It's time all food companies started to fully play their part and focused their vast array of creative and persuasive marketing techniques on selling healthier foods to children instead of less healthy ones." Cancer Research UK is concerned by the report's findings as obesity is a risk factor for a number of forms of cancer. Sarah Woolnough, Cancer Research UK's health policy manager, said: "It's very disappointing that companies continue to heavily market unhealthy foods to children. The current obesity crisis means we should be doing all we can to make the healthy choice the easy choice. "Around 13,000 cases of cancer could be prevented if no-one was overweight or obese. It's critical that these marketing practices stop and if industry won't effectively act, the Government must step in."

Visit the Which? website

Cancer Research UK's cancer prevention and public health policy