Have you #AdEnough of junk food marketing aimed at kids?
Jamie Oliver has. His latest health food campaign is to limit junk food adverts aimed at kids.
He explains it like this:
Hi guys, Jamie here. I want to tell you about my campaign to protect kids from junk food marketing – and explain why I believe it really matters.
The premise is that kids are "bombarded, day-in, day-out, with adverts for food and drink products that are high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt" – and doing something about that is Jamie's latest crusade.
He reckons ads online, on TV, on the streets and "all over public transport" target kids with "cheap, easily accessible, unhealthy junk food". He also argues that banning those ads would make it easier for kids to make better, healthier food choices.
Consequently, Jamie wants the government to put a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising on TV. He's also calling for "proper controls" on what ads kids see online, in the street and on public transport when it comes to food advertising. And all of this is on the basis that junk food marketing undermines the efforts of parents and schools to tackle the rise of childhood obesity.
Jamie is urging people to show their support by posting an image of themselves covering their eyes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, using the hashtag #AdEnough
I'm a Jamie fan – his campaign to stop energy drinks being sold to children was pure dead brilliant and I'm pretty pleased that my kids don't have to chow down on Turkey Twizzlers when they opt for school dinners.
His passion for tackling childhood obesity and his capacity to create compelling healthy eating campaigns is admirable. There's no denying that being a father of five informs his interest in encouraging healthy eating among kids.
All that said, I've got to admit that I've already had enough of #AdEnough. It feels to me like this campaign falls wide of the mark. Taking unhealthy trash off school dinner menus and limiting the ease with which kids can buy horrifically unhealthy drinks is one thing, but isn't it my job, as a parent, to engage with my kids over how they're affected by junk food advertising?
No-one's going to argue FOR junk food marketing aimed at kids – I'm not saying Jamie hasn't got a point. But the idea that ads promoting junk food are the problem makes little sense to me. I'm the one that orders Dominos, gives in (or doesn't) to pester power, or buys "those Nutella bars off the telly" – not my kids.
It's my job as a mum to help my kids make healthy food choices, and debating the nutritional value of a bowl of porridge over breakfast cereal with as much sugar as a handful of biscuits is part of that.
I'm more concerned about the inappropriate content that's freely available to my kids via social media and smart phones than I am about the junk food adverts they might see on telly. I don't even think my kids see all that much advertising these days. What makes a bigger difference to them is the food they see me eating, or the stuff their mates have in their lunchboxes.
Kids are clever cookies (no pun intended). I think educating them to decipher and decode marketing messages and to make healthy, informed choices is much more important than simply 'hiding' junk food advertising from them.
And plenty of kids watch TV past 9pm anyway – I say this as the mother of an impressionable teenager – so I'm not sure this will have that much effect. And they'll grow up eventually – how will they react to junk food ads as adults if we've just swept them under the carpet when they were kids?
What's next? Banning adverts for toys? Kids who don't watch TV past 9pm aren't the ones buying junk food anyway. Their parents are. Getting them to spend half an hour faffing around with selfies to boost Jamie's social media reach seems pointless – why not spend that half hour playing outside with your kid instead of worrying about the impact of a McDonalds advert. Until someone invents the tech to enable ordering a Big Mac via the TV remote, (now THERE'S an idea) I don't think adverts are the problem.
How about challenging food manufacturers or subsidising healthier foods?
The cynic in me can't help feeling that this is all an effort to boost Jamie's brand – which he's entitled to do, of course. But I'm beginning to feel like I've had enough of #AdEnough already.