ISBA boss calls on Gov’t to seize initiative on obesity

Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) director-general Malcolm Earnshaw is calling on the Government to stop blaming advertising for the growing obesity crisis and instead to start investing money in public education campaigns to promote healthy living.

He is also urging the Government to explore partnerships with food manufacturers and to use “advertising properties” such as Walkers brand spokesman Gary Lineker and McDonald’s mascot Ronald McDonald to deliver healthy-eating messages.

Earnshaw says: “The advertising industry is anxious to participate fully in the challenges of the food and health debate, for instance through delivering messages on product packaging.

“A self-regulatory code for advertising already exists, but it is for the Government to lead the way and to use advertising as a positive force to educate consumers about diet and lifestyle.”

His remarks follow the publication of the Food and Drink Federation manifesto this week, which set out agreed commitments on informative labelling; reducing sugar, fat and salt levels in food; and the discussion of concerns relating to advertising to children.

“If the Government can produce a road-safety ad campaign, it can also use advertising to motivate consumers to lead a healthy lifestyle. Food advertisers have already flagged up the opportunity to use characters such as Ronald McDonald and Gary Lineker to convey such messages to consumers,” adds Earnshaw.

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