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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 14:51 GMT
Call for TV food ads ban
Fast food
Ms Shipley is concerned about childhood obesity
Advertisements which promote food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar should be banned from children's television, according to a Labour MP.

Debra Shipley says the images of burgers, biscuits, crisps and fizzy drinks can only contribute to the onset of obesity in later life.

Allowing the adverts to appear between programmes watched by the under-fives counters the government's efforts to encourage healthy eating, she says.

My bill will prevent these kinds of foods being foisted on pre-school children who have no understanding of the nature of advertising
Debra Shipley

Now Ms Shipley hopes ministers will listen to her arguments and back her Children's Television (Advertising) Bill, which will outlaw advertising during pre-school children's TV programmes that feature food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar.

She introduced the measures through a ten-minute rule motion in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

The MP's previous bill on a similar subject ran out of parliamentary time earlier this year, and this attempt has no chance of becoming law, also because of a lack of time.


But Ms Shipley, MP for Stourbridge, said: "Irresponsible food and drink manufacturers ruthlessly target children through television advertising and clever marketing strategies.

"No mention is made of the fact that high fat, high sugar and high salt food and drink can cause obesity and diabetes.

Debra Shipley
Ms Shipley has received support from over 100 MPs
"My bill will prevent these kinds of foods being foisted on pre-school children who have no understanding of the nature of advertising.

"The government's own Food Standards Agency examined all the relevant research and concluded that advertising was having a significant influence on the diet of children."

Ms Shipley, responsible for the Protection of Children Act 1999, is supported by more than 100 MPs and 90 national organisation, including the National Heart Forum, Women's Institute, Food Commission, National Union of Teachers and National Consumer Council.

She argues that in one hour of terrestrial children's television, a child is likely to see between six and 11 adverts for food high in fat, sugar and salt.

'Welcome initiative'

Food Commission research suggested that of all the cereal adverts shown during children's viewing time, 89% were for breakfast cereals that were very high in sugar.

Research from the University of Liverpool last month found obese children to be more receptive to food adverts on TV than youngsters of normal weight.

The NUT is deeply alarmed at the impact of poor diet on children's health and their capacity to learn
Doug McAvoy

Recent estimates suggest that by 2001, some 8.5% of six year olds and 15% of 15 year olds in England were obese.

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the NUT, welcomed Ms Shipley's initiative, stressing that it was an issue which directly concerned schools.

"The NUT is deeply alarmed at the impact of poor diet on children's health and their capacity to learn," he said.

"It is concerned by the cynical targeting of some companies seeking simply to market their products and exploit schools, pupils and parents.

"The fact that the bill is being introduced brings a welcome and wider focus on the way schools are being targeted by fast food companies."

Ms Shipley, who is a member of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said she had been overwhelmed by the "massive favourable response" to her proposals.

"There is a growing consensus that a ban is the only way forward as self-regulation is demonstratively not working," she said.

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