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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan recently proposed to ban adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar from the entire transport network of the city in an attempt to curb childhood obesity. Official data highlighted that almost 40 percent of children aged 10 and 11 in London are overweight or obese. The mayor referred to the issue as a “ticking time bomb.”

Previously in India, Smriti Irani went on to say that nine major food business companies have voluntarily decided not to advertise products with high fat, salt or sugar on children’s channels. Also, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had mentioned that bodies like the Food and Beverage Alliance of India (FBIA) have already decided to voluntarily restrict food and beverage advertisements concerning children. This comes in with the fact that the country will end up having 17 million obese kids by 2025, to be at the second spot after China, as per a study published in 2016 in Pediatric Obesity, an international journal.

Does Banning help?

While not entirely, banning does impact the sale of goods to some extent. Children, as an audience (age group of 02-14 years) account for 20 per cent of total TV impressions as per BARC data. In the context of advertisements, a term “pester power” is being used increasingly for children, highlighting their role in purchasing power decision. It stresses on the fact that children influence and put pressure on their parents to buy products they like. This is where advertisers leverage and use various forms of media to combine powerful images, words and sounds to create a direct impact.

Sydney Morning Herald reported that a junk food advertising ban was trialed on a smaller scale in Amsterdam, where the Mayor has overseen a 12 per cent reduction in the number of children deemed overweight or obese in just three years since announcing a multi-faceted childhood obesity policy. With a growth rate of 7.4% in Indian advertising market over the past two years, the decision to ban advertisement could impact the functioning of the fast food markets in India.



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