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Saturday, August 26, 2006

"Super-size Britain must curb junk food ads, say campaigners"

I find it interesting how the insidous power of advertising is supposed to corrupt normal healthy people into corpulent pigs mindlessly munching away at junk food. It is also interseting how the food snobbery movement is growing. Not content to ban the delicious Turkey Twizzler from the school canteen, the organic crusaders are now on their way to the supermarket.
Banning TV advertising about Junk Food would be good for our industry as the advertsiing money will have to go somewhere else. The internet would be perfect to receive the money instead, however we shouldn't want to win because of government intervention.
Over the last couple of decades there has been a movement towards providing cheap food for the masses. This was the whole point of the Common Agricultural Policy. Now that this movement has succeeded, the hippies want to move towards forcing people to only eat quality food.
The problem is that there isn't a really clear definition of 'junk food'. As any nutritionist will tell you, it's all about balanced diet. A diet of strictly cucumbers would hurt you almost as much as a diet of only McDonalds. So what constitutes Junk Food? High fat food? Would that mean adverts for Butter or Margarine would be banned?
Basically this will only create some artificial hoops for the junk food manufacturers to jump through. Limiting the fat to a certain amount and then inserting flavourings or 'regulators' would allow the manufacters to still create stodgy food. This would then frustrate the hippies and they'll make some kind of 'Junk Food Tsar' who will be charged with the impossible task of making people eat healthily.

In my opinion the answer is that they should harness the power of advertising to run adverts telling people to eat healthily. Maybe tax the junk food manufacturers to pay for healthy advertising. Link the size of the tax to the proportion of people eating healthily. This link should incentivise them to deliver more healthy people.
The fact that the companies will be involved in promoting healthy eating would then lead to new healthy food products as the companies see that they can promote products on the back of this forced advertising.
Overall though, I think we should tax hippies and give the money to Nestle.


  • It does seem that in priciple, people in the UK support eating healthy. Jaimie Oliver and his crusade against Turkey Twizzlers, Morgan Spurlock's documentary Super Size Me and the presence of eating healthy channels within each of the Supermarket websites. McDonalds began phasing out supersize meals and introducing salads, bottled water and 'fresh' fruit'. Is there a need to tax manufacturers of junk food to pay for eat healthy ads? THe healthy options from McDonalds did not last long and during the summer we were privilaged with even bigger Big Macs. Why? Because there is a market for it. People intend to eat healthy but are happy to satisfy their consumption with junk food... How can you possibly practice any form of self discipline at McDonalds. I think that if you were to increase the tax on the likes of McD's, this would probably spur them on to enlarge their product range of bigger and better burgers to satisfy as well as further demand for junk food. But we should definately take interest into what our Supermarkets stock. I'm sure that the quality of vegetables and meat would be classified as junk food, by those who used to shop at their now-displace veg market/ local butcher.

    By Blogger neil, at 2:14 pm  

  • Your comments make me want to shout "it's political correctness gone mad!"

    Putting my economics hat on, why should we tax bad food (which incidently you already said we can't accurately define so how could we tax it?) in order to change people's purchasing habits?

    The tax will already reduce the supply of junk food and in that way it's only one step away from a ban. So if you're going to do that, you don't need to change the public's perceptions.

    Either you correct information and then let the public make their choice, or you make it for them. Why do both?

    By Blogger Daniel, at 5:07 pm  

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