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Mars exposes state lethargy on children's advertising

6 February, 2007

Sinn Féin Communications spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has said the decision by Masterfoods, the makers of Mars, to end advertising directed at under-12s, reopens the debate about the need for legislation to ban advertising directed at children. Deputy Crowe, who has repeatedly called for such legislation, pointed out the need to legislate for an area with serious public health concerns.


The Dublin South-West TD said: “The initiative taken by Masterfoods, the makers of Mars and Snickers chocolate bars, to end advertising targeted at children under the age of 12 is to be welcomed as a positive first step in the context of the failure of the Government to recognise the seriousness of this issue.


“I have raised the deliberate targeting of children by advertisers in the Dáil previously. There are substantial implications for public health and in particular, rising obesity levels. The 2002 SLAN survey found that 13% of our adult population was obese and that consumption of fruit had declined by almost 50% in school going children. The latest SLAN survey, currently being carried out, is likely to show increases in both categories.


“Overall more than 30 medical conditions have been linked to obesity and scientific evidence has established a very strong relationship with at least 15 of those conditions.


“While welcoming the move from Masterfoods, we must also be aware that the definition of children’s programming is at best, an inexact science. While it would be easy enough to point to the section of the schedules that the broadcaster has set aside for children’s programming, a great deal of television programmes designed for adults, or for young people, are very popular with children.


“Progammes like Friends, The Simpsons, Home and Away and others would have a significant amount of children watching them, but would not necessarily be characterised as children’s programming.


“Nevertheless, the initiative taken by Masterfoods is one that deserves to be applauded in the hope that not only will other companies follow suit, but that the Government will finally see fit to legislate in this area.”



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