The Link Between Food Promotion And Eating Behavior

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Over the past year political momentum has grown for strong action to tackle childhood obesity and there is an emerging consensus that regulation of food advertising to children is both necessary and achievable. A key factor in this debate has been the publication of the Food Standards Agency 's (FSA) review of research into the link between food promotion and eating behaviour in children, undertaken by Professor Gerard Hastings and colleagues at the University of Strathclyde.2 Though the findings are heavily qualified, the authors conclude that advertising to children does have an adverse effect on food preferences, purchasing behaviour and consumption. Comment in the media was less ambivalent: the report was taken as clear evidence that the large food corporations are out of control and that tough action is required to curb their excesses. The Lancet concurred, with an editorial attacking sports celebrities and food manufacturers for their cynical promotion of junk food and demanding legislation to force the junk-food industry to 'clean up its act '.3 Some of the big brand companies, including Coca-Cola and Heinz, responded with a declaration that they would stop advertising their products to children; and the Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell asked the new television regulator, Ofcom, to review its advertising code for children. Since the Hastings Review may be used as the justification for policy change or even legislation, its methodology and findings deserve close
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