TV adverts get health check

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The Independent Online
Rules governing television advertising for food, slimming products and pharmaceuticals are to be tightened under guidelines issued yesterday by the Independent Television Commission, writes Rhys Williams.

Prompted by the Government's Health of the Nation White Paper, the review attempts to ensure advertisers pay heed to health implications.

The commission accepts "competitive product advertising cannot reasonably be expected to perform the same role as education and public information in promoting a varied and balanced diet."

But it adds: "At the same time it is important that such advertising should not undermine progress towards national dietary improvement by misleading or confusing consumers or by setting bad examples, particularly to children."

Advertisements encouraging or condoning overindulgence in any food, or disparaging good nutritional practice, are out. A Dime bars commercial that featured Harry Enfield wheeling a supermarket trolley full of the chocolate would be banned.

Similarly, a television advertisement in which a boy drank Capri Sun at half-time in a football match instead of eating an orange would be unacceptable as it implied the drink was a substitute for fresh fruit.

While accepting advertisers have treated slimming products responsibly, the commission spells out that they should not be pitched at children either in the message or by scheduling.