While the research suggested that advertising had a big influence on teenagers’ eating habits, there were other more important factors at play – such as a lack of understanding of the role of diet in the context of exercise and lifestyle – said Hilary Ross, executive partner and head of retail, food and hospitality at law firm DWF.
“Focusing on advertising alone is like using a ‘sticking plaster’ to mend a broken limb and fails to tackle the real issue,” Ross said.
‘The increase of obesity in the UK’
“The increase of obesity in the UK is multidimensional, aspects of which include socioeconomic status, physical inactivity, as well as what we eat and when we eat.
“What we need is a holistic approach that addresses all these issues by educating and improving the nation.”
In the study, people with ‘high advert exposure’ were found to be 2.7 times more likely to have a high total fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) consumption.
Meanwhile, people with low exposure (less than half an hour a day) were around 2.6 times more likely to have low HFSS consumption.
520 unhealthy food products a year
The report found that the difference between being a high consumer and a low consumer was at least 520 unhealthy food products a year.
It concluded that while there would not be a single solution to obesity in the UK, junk food advertising restrictions constituted “a simple and pragmatic way for policy-makers” to make a sustainable impact on the UK’s childhood obesity epidemic.
Please click here to sign-up for our free monthly Food Ingredients, Health & Nutrition (FIHN) newsletter.