Food advertisers had been making significant attempts to modify the content and volume of food and drink advertising long before the regulators decided to intervene, according to the Advertising Association.
The comments are made in a submission to the Department of Health, to coincide with the Government’s interim review, this autumn, of changes in food and soft drink advertising.
The AA says that any further restrictions are unnecessary. The body is attempting to impress on the Government that a pre-9pm watershed ban would be a “blunt instrument” that was disproportionate and unnecessary.
AA chief executive Baroness Peta Buscombe says that although obesity is an important social issue that must be taken seriously, advertising is an easy target. She adds that advertising bans have unintended consequences and will not tackle the root causes of the problem of obesity.
The paper also points out that between 2003 and 2006, ad spend on “scrutiny products”, including potato crisps, full-sugar carbonates, confectionery and fast food restaurants, fell by almost 9% (£26m) across all media.
It says that advertising spend of scrutiny products on television, which remains the dominant medium for these advertised categories, shows a decline of almost 18% (£41m), and snacks and confectionery show even greater falls.
The submission also claims that the television spend on “better-for-you” products, such as fruit juice, water and fresh fruit and vegetables, has increased by 61% between 2003 and 2006, and ad spend on these products in other media has experienced an uplift of more than 130% in the same period.