McDonald's adverts push 'healthy diet'

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The Independent Online

McDonald's reacted to criticism of fast-food advertising aimed at children by launching a campaign yesterday designed to promote a "healthy lifestyle".

The firm is putting £1m into a series of adverts during children's television that encourage youngsters to eat fruit and vegetables and keep active.

The food industry is under intense pressure to curtail its marketing in the face of rising levels of childhood obesity.

The topic forms part of a study being undertaken by the communications regulator, Ofcom, into advertising of food and drink to youngsters.

Opponents have called on the Government to ban adverts for foods high in sugar, salt and fat during TV programmes aimed at children. McDonald's says it spends about £5m on TV commercials with children in mind out of a total advertising budget of £40.8m in the UK last year.

The new adverts feature the chain's Ronald McDonald mascot, plus the Yums, characters "who live in everyone's tummy".

They use song to promote four messages to children and parents: keep fit, eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, drink plenty of fluids and "not to have too many treats".

Andrew Taylor, the chief executive and chairman of McDonald's UK, said: "It seems to us that this is a responsible step for us to adopt. This is not peripheral activity. This is something we will measure and share the results."