Labour’s vow to ban fast food ads on Saturday night TV totally misses the point

by Lucy Ashton

Labour‘s vow to make our nation’s children the “healthiest in the world” by banning fast food advertising during Saturday night TV is the worst kind of artificial sweetener for voters. 

No one is arguing with the facts – children nowadays are more obese at a younger age, have worst tooth decay and rising mental health problems. 

But does Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Ashworth seriously believe banning a KFC advert during the X Factor will solve such a huge, complex issue? 

Ashworth says: We will end the scourge of child ill health with bold, decisive and targeted action aimed at making our children the healthiest in the world.”  

And how exactly do we quantify this? Are we basing it on BMI index? Fewer hospital admissions? Lowering the number of diabetics? It’s also dangerous to lump physical and mental health together as the two can be completely separate issues with different solutions. 

His theorbehind banning certain adverts is that kids will then stop pestering their parents to buy junk food. The ban would only be during prime time TV so it’s fine to watch sugar-loaded cereal advertised on children’s channels in the day time.  

We’re also taking a quaint 1950’s view that the whole family is watching Britain’s Got Talent together when the reality is families are viewing Netflix, downloaded films and YouTube. 

As a mum, my kids have never pestered me in the supermarket because they have seen an advert. Funnily enough, I’ve also had a fair bit of practice at saying no when they ask for something wildly unhealthy. 

What does impact on my children and what does concern me is that successive Governments have repeatedly sold off school playing fields. The playground at our inner city school is so small that sports day consists of throwing a few bean bags as there’s not enough room to run around. 

It concerns me that PE in schools is constantly downgraded because teachers are under pressure to concentrate on the core subjects of literacy and numeracy. The physical and mental benefits of children exercising are repeatedly ignored as Ofsted places more demands on academia. 

It concerns me that poor kids never get a chance to try after school sports and activities as they can’t afford them. I live in Sheffield, the self-styled City of Sport with the English Institute of Sport, yet the Labour council demolished the outdoor athletics stadium where Olympic athlete Jessica Ennis trained. 

It concerns me that my Labour council now charges in the car park at our local park so we have to pay to go there. There has been no investment in nearby playgrounds for years. The council did create a water play park but will only open it for restricted hours during the six weeks holiday. 

It concerns me that families are relying on food banks – who can follow a healthy eating plan when they have to survive on tins and packets of pasta? Meanwhile food manufacturers are constantly packing sugar and salt into everything from tomato soup to yoghurts.  

It concerns me that my local Labour council is chopping down thousands of mature trees so the leafy paths I walk with my children are now barren and consumed by traffic fumes. 

I have a lot of worries about my children and their future health but seeing a burger advert on TV isn’t one of them. 

Lucy Ashton is a former Political Editor of a regional newspaper and mother-of-two 

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8 Responses to “Labour’s vow to ban fast food ads on Saturday night TV totally misses the point”

  1. David Walker says:

    Good article. When I was young, we lived in an area where the deep-fat-fryer was the go-to device for preparing meals. Food tended to be cheap sausages or fish-fingers with chips.

    The kids rarely had money for sweets though and there was hardly ever anything sugary to eat or drink in people’s houses. Most importantly, if it was light outside, we were generally told to ‘go out, play and get from under my feet’ by whoever was in charge.

    So you would obey, until hunger forced you to go home and negotiate. There was only one fat kid, that I remember and he was called Fatty.

    As for safety, there were various approaches made by dodgy men in cars, when we were running around. The kids were streetwise enough to deal with this though and the guy would quickly find himself surrounded by a jeering mob of semi-feral children who knew that their sheer number made them safe.

    That was a long time ago though and I don’t think those days are ever coming back. Presumably, Labour’s banned prime-time KFC ads will be replaced with ones for Bet365?

  2. Tafia says:

    Government (and opposition parties) needs to start calling a spade a spade where obesity (and other things) is concerned.

    A very very small percentage of people are obese because of mental health type problems. The vast bulk of the remainder are obese because they are greedy or lazy or both and they need telling that in no uncertain terms. Parents who allow their children to become obese are committing physical child abuse.

    Simple as that.

  3. Ex Labour says:

    Yet more buffoonery from Labour. I thought they wanted the country to take Labour seriously ?

  4. Anon says:

    I have watched the green spaces in my city destroyed because of an economic model based on increasing the population.

    Every green area has been mopped up for development.

    We create these hellholes and wonder why our children are overweight yobs.

  5. Alf says:

    Defy Tom Watson. Vote Labour.

  6. buttley says:

    ……”And how exactly do we quantify this?”

    I would have thought a cursory glance at the manifesto, a good starting point.


    Labour will invest in children’s health, bringing in a new government ambition for our children to be the healthiest in the world.

    We will fight health inequalities to break the scandalous link between child ill-health and poverty.

    We will introduce a new Index of Child Health to measure progress against international standards, and report annually against four key indicators: obesity, dental health, under-fives and mental health.

    We will set up a new £250 million Children’s Health Fund to support our ambitions. As part of a preventative healthcare drive, Labour will increase the number of health visitors and school nurses

    We will publish a new childhood obesity strategy within the first 100 days, with proposals on advertising and food labelling.

    We will make a concerted effort to address poor childhood oral health in England. Labour will implement the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, commonly known as the ‘sugar tax’.

    The author asks the rhetorical question

    “But does Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Ashworth seriously believe banning a KFC advert during the X Factor will solve such a huge, complex issue? ”

    To which i am guessing she concludes, no.

  7. madasafish says:

    There was a period not long ago when everyone in the UK ate a balanced diet . There were no fatties as calories were counted..

    It was called “rationing”…And it worked..It was a time of REAL austerity not the kind people call “austerity which includes spending increases”:-)

    And children walked to school or took public transport..

    Instant solution:-)

  8. Tafia says:

    Eaxctly Madasafish. Exactly.

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