Saturday, 27 March 2021

Victory (part two)

It's been a bit of a good news week. On Monday, AG Barr announced that its "limited edition" full sugar version of Irn-Bru would be on the shelves permanently, and now we're hearing that the online ban on tasty food advertising is being dropped.

An online junk-food ads ban is to be axed as it would have almost no effect on obesity.

The proposal would cut a child’s annual calorie intake by just 700 — equivalent to four packets of crisps.

Even that claim is extremely dodgy. It's based on experiments in which young children are put in a room with a television, no parental supervision and an unlimited quantity of free food. Half of them are shown adverts for the free food and the researchers see if they eat more of it. They do - marginally - and this is then somehow extrapolated to online advertising. It's junk science

Following a review, Whitehall insiders say ministers now accept that a boycott would be “disproportionate” as it would cost businesses tens of millions.

As I've said from the outset, the policies in the obesity strategy came straight from the desks of nanny state fanatics and hadn't been thought through. It was left to bureaucrats in Whitehall to turn them into workable legislation. That proved largely impossible because the definition of 'junk food' is ludicrously broad and food companies need some way of communicating with their customers. Laws aimed at McDonald's were going to affect the bakery on the high street and the local wedding cake business.

The whole thing is now disintegrating on contact with reality. The policy of mandatory calorie counts in the out-of-home sector has been stripped back so it only affects large chains (as I said it would have to) and the round-the-clock digital advertising ban is going to be scrapped entirely. 

The next thing to be scrapped or watered down is going to have to be the ban on positioning so-called unhealthy food at the end of aisles, front of store and checkout. This is clearly impossible for smaller retailers and will be a big problem even for supermarkets. 
The watershed TV advertising ban should also go. It's going to cost broadcasters a fortune and leave us with wall-to-wall food adverts after 9pm. Let's just accept that teenagers can handle seeing adverts for ice cream.
If people want this kind of stuff they can vote Labour, Lib Dem or Green, but there needs to be at least one mainstream political party that doesn't want to launch an unprecedented and unevidenced assault on the food supply.

As the Sun says: 

What took the Government so long to scrap the ludicrous proposed ban on online ads for fast food?

The scientific evidence showed it would cut a child’s daily calories by about two . . . that’s a biscuit crumb.

All at a monstrous cost to businesses.

The Sun pointed this out last November. It shows the power of the nanny-state lobby that this mad idea wasn’t immediately laughed out of the room.

But we welcome No10 seeing the light now.

How about applying the same common sense to other failed measures?

Like the sugar tax, which won’t trim an ounce off anyone’s weight.

Then concentrate on the real solutions:

Better education on diet — and exercise.

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