Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Thursday, 14 June 2012 12:02 UK

MP links children's advertising and mental illness

A Labour MP has attacked advertising aimed at children and young people, saying it encourages obesity and anxieties about body image, and threatens mental health.

Speaking during culture, media and sport questions in the Commons on 14 June 2011, Chris Ruane said: "Half the adverts aimed at children encourage them to gorge on junk food and become obese; the other half extol the virtues of size zero.

"Is it any wonder that 20% of children suffer with mental illness?"

The MP for Vale of Clwyd had tabled a question asking ministers what assessment they had made of the potential effects of advertising aimed at children on childhood obesity and children's mental health.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey told him that the rules on advertising were the responsibility of the Advertising Standards Authority and media regulator Ofcom.

Mr Ruane asked if the government would follow "the example of Sweden, which has banned advertising for the under 12s".

Mr Vaizey responded that Ofcom regulations "prevent the advertising of high fat, sugar and salt products in children's programming" and that "exposure to this kind of marketing has been reduced by between a third and a half for young children".

In response to a question from Labour MP John Mann, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed that his new special adviser would be Guy Levin.

Mr Levin replaces Adam Smith, who resigned over his alleged contacts with News Corp.

Mr Mann asked if written reports of meetings between special advisers would be made public, "so we can all see precisely what instructions 10 Downing Street is giving to his and other special advisers".

Mr Hunt told him: "We will be at least as transparent as the last government on these matters, if not more so."

Other questions were on competition in the supply of superfast broadband services and the future of local newspapers.

After topical questions, MPs put questions to Leader of the House Sir George Young and representatives from the Commons Commission.

Topics raised include the role of the Grand Committees of the House and transparency in the lobbying of MPs.

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