Report reveals misleading health claims in food ads

Food adverts aimed at parents make misleading claims about health benefits of food high in fat, sugar and salt, a report researched by the Food Commission claims. The report has been published by the British Heart Foundation, which claims to be the first to look at how parents are targeted.

The report claims campaigns use five techniques to tap into parents’ fears and aspirations and manipulate their ability to make healthy choices on behalf of their children.

These claims focus on quality, selective health and nutritional claims, emotional insight which empathises with mothers and imagery to entice and mislead parents. It singles out Kellogg’s Coco-Pops cereal and milk bar, which contains 41g of sugar, but uses pictures of grapes and wholemeal bread on its packaging and claims to be “a best choice for a lunchbox treat”.

Nestlé, Burger King and KFC are among other brands accused of “exploiting legal loopholes” to actively market unhealthy products to parents. The BHF says it is now calling on the Government to “rigorously limit the marketing of unhealthy foods.”

The Government says it is waiting for an Ofcom report on advertising of food to children and parents in media excluding TV, which has already been restricted. It is due to be published “shortly”.

The Food and Drink Federation, which represents food companies, has slammed the report as “nonsense”.

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