Cereal manufacturers have been using cartoon characters from popular films and television series on their products to target their younger consumer audiences – but the truth is that many of the sugary cereals on the market are extremely unhealthy and are contributing to the increasing childhood obesity crisis in Britain.
In an effort to combat the obesity epidemic lawmakers are suggesting a ban on the use of cartoon characters on cereal boxes to make the food less appealing to children.
Britain Wants to Ban Cartoons on Junk Food
The Committee on Health and Social Care is calling for an umbrella ban on the usage of licensed fictional characters and brand-generated cartoons on foods that are high in sugar, sodium or salt.
Television advertisements by food manufacturers targeted towards children should also be banned, says the committee. Instead, popular cartoon characters should be used to promote the consumption of healthy food such as fruits and vegetables.
The issue was first presented to the Committee by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver who explained his case with evidence that the cereals – or as he called them, ‘rubbish’ – which are considered a breakfast staple in homes, are bad for children’s health and should be marketed in a more realistic manner to curb their consumption.
The British government has started taking action to stop childhood obesity and now cracking down on junk food advertisements as the next chapter of its plan including the possibility of banning junk food ads on television altogether.
Suggestions Presented by the Committee
The committee also suggested removing unhealthy snacks and sugary foods from the checkout aisles at grocery stores to discourage children from buying them as well as restricting promotions, discounts and value packs for unhealthy foods. In the proposal, the committee is also requesting local authorities to limit the accessibility of junk foods in their areas and promote healthy eating in school cafeterias.
The latest childhood obesity report presented by the committee includes a number of recommendations to discourage the consumption of unhealthy foods. The need for health reforms is more immediate than ever with official figures showing that one-third of the children in Britain are obese by the time they finish primary school.
Social media also plays a key role in influencing food choices among children which is why bigger companies like YouTube and Facebook should take preventive measures to reduce inappropriate advertising which targets younger audiences.
Dr. Sarah Wollaston, who is the chairwoman of Health and Social Care Committee, said that children are gaining weight quickly and statistics have shown that kids from disadvantaged communities are at a greater risk of gaining weight and the lack of equality in the healthcare and education system is forces people to make poor and uninformed health choices.
Rising Child Obesity Crisis
Obesity Health Alliance Doctor, Modi Mwatsama, agrees that banning junk food commercials on televisions, or changing them to paint a more realistic picture of these unhealthy foods will have a positive impact on Britain’s health. He says that childhood obesity isn’t a simple problem that has emerged overnight. Instead it is a crisis has been decades in the making, and, can be owed to a host of factors – excessive junk food marketing being one of them.
Some of the most popular cereals like Frosties are made up of processed sugar and other preservatives that make it unhealthy for consumption. These foods are often marketed unethically to portray them as nutritious breakfast choice for kids, which is contrary to the truth. Some of the worst health offenders on the market all use cartoon characters to sell their products to young impressionable kids who are much easier to target with false and colorful advertisements.
According to the figures released by the Local Government Association last week, the number of 11-year-old children in Wales and England battling with obesity has climbed up to 22,500, but the sugar and beverage industry is still pushing hard against any attempts to reduce junk food consumption, refusing to take blame for the obesity crisis that affects millions across the country.
Jamie Oliver believes that tackling the junk food industry will be an enormous undertaking – one, that won’t be possible without the help of lawmakers and joint effort from international communities. ‘The future of our kids and the NHS is at stake,’ he added.