/ Food & Drink, Health

Jamie Oliver: I’ve #AdEnough of junk food marketing – have you?

I’ve launched #AdEnough in a bid to protect kids from junk food marketing – an issue that’s long been a focus of Which? campaigns. Here’s how the campaign will help tackle the rise in childhood obesity – and I need your help.

Kids are bombarded, day in, day out, with adverts for food and drink products that are high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt. They’re online, on TV, on bus tickets, in computer games, all over the streets – they’re everywhere!

If kids are constantly targeted with cheap, easily accessible, unhealthy junk food, just think how hard it must be to make better, healthier choices.

We have to make it easier for children to make healthier decisions. These junk food ads undermine any positive work we’re doing in schools or at home to tackle the rise of childhood obesity.

Currently, there’s nothing in place to protect our kids from seeing these adverts – apart from literally covering their eyes! And that’s where the #AdEnough campaign comes in…

The #AdEnough campaign

It’s time we put child health first. I’m calling for a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising on TV, and for proper controls on what adverts kids see online, in the street and on public transport.

Crucially, this campaign isn’t about stopping big brands from advertising full stop; it’s about making sure kids aren’t being targeted with unhealthy products. It’s about controlling the time and place.

What’s needed?

Just like tobacco, we must limit children’s exposure to the marketing of foods high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar.

We also need a cultural shift, whereby kids’ heroes (human, superhuman or animated) don’t endorse junk food; and the advertising, entertainment, TV and film industries take responsibility for the subliminal messages they promote and the products they endorse.

We need to crack down on junk food marketing and discounts. We can’t allow promotions, such as ‘buy one, get one free’, that encourage us to buy more food that’s high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar.

Local authorities also need the power to remove junk ads from billboards, bus stops, stadiums, or from outside their schools.

Measuring our success

What gets measured gets done. We need to find new, progressive metrics that track the cause of our eating and food habits across the board.

The Department of Health does a good job tracking the scale of the problem, but an intelligent policy response is difficult without knowing about the causes (ie, our children’s exposure to junk food advertising, the proliferation of fast food restaurants, or household food insecurity).

Can you help?

We urgently need the government to act. And it’s really easy for you to help. Show your support by posting an image of yourself hiding your eyes on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #AdEnough.

It should only take two minutes of your time, and this simple, repeated image will be a powerful signal to the government that our kids have had enough.

I really believe we can get this over the line – we’ve already got some amazing support in government, and from big names in the sport, health and food worlds. This could be a really key moment in our fight against childhood obesity.

We have to take proper, meaningful steps to protect kids from the future they currently face. And we have to act now. Post your #AdEnough picture, and let’s make this happen!

This is a guest post by Jamie Oliver. All views expressed are Jamie’s own and not necessarily those also shared by Which?.

Do you agree that children need protecting from junk food marketing? How else can we tackle childhood obesity?


It is also parent’s job to prevent, as far as possible, their own children from eating too much unhealthy food (or psuedo food) – if they care about their future health and fitness as they no doubt do. A constructive educational programme for parents would perhaps be more directly useful if the case can be made as compelling as it should be. It might also stop adults from too much inappropriate eating and help their own health and fitness.

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are the single largest source of sugar in our children’s diets. That’s why at Jamie’s Italian, we’re adding 10p to the price of every soft drink with added sugar.”. Better, surely, not to serve such drinks in the first place? Set an example.

Agreed, Malcolm – but many parents are also vulnerable to advertisements.

As for differential pricing between drinks artificially sweetened and sugar drinks, there is much controversy over some of the artificial sweeteners, notably aspartame, which does in some predisposed folk build up dangerous levels of one of its ingredients with far-reaching consequences if unchecked.

Some may remember the tartrazine scandal of a decade or two ago – E103 from memory. Harmless in most, but in sensitive children led to all sorts of distressful (mainly for the parents) situations. Thankfully that is now banned. Not suggesting aspartame should be banned as, unlike tartrazine whose effect was solely cosmetic appearance, aspartame does help a lot those unaffected.

I see that Roger, but we surely must give grown ups free choice and rely on their own judgement. Otherwise we’d end up censoring / banning all advertising and who has the right to decide what we should and should not see? Education, warnings. information are what are needed, in my view.


Censorship to protect the vulnerable is a whole new ball game (qv ciggies and sport)

I don’t believe that tartrazine is banned in the UK, although it is in some countries. Many manufacturers did remove it following adverse publicity and since food and drink containing it must now be labelled, few manufacturers are likely to use it: https://www.food.gov.uk/science/additives/foodcolours It’s use could have been discontinued much sooner, like plastic backs in fridges and freezers.

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duncan, I’m struggling to see the relevance of the USA in this. We are just as capable of making and marketing junk food ourselves; we cannot blame the USA for everything. We have not yet accepted chlorinated chicken – washed to destroy campylobacter – and that is not what I would class as junk food (unlike, say, turkey twizzlers perhaps which contain just 34% turkey, invented as fa as I know in the UK).

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The Monsanto effect?

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🙂 I only knew about 20% of the above. I do know of a whole raft of conspiracy theory, particularly over glyphosate and GM food.

For adult obesity USA comes 19th with 33.7% obese. Top is the Cook islands (50.8%), NZ 29th (29.2%), UK 33rd (28%). N.Korea is a slim 191st at 2.4%. According to https://renewbariatrics.com/obesity-rank-by-countries/

If this is to be believed https://www.msn.com/en-in/health/wellness/countries-with-the-most-obese-kids/ss-AAjaOig#image=30
obesity in children is UK 24% in 12th place, , USA 4th at 30%, NZ 3rd at 34%, Italy 2nd at 35% topped by, in first place, Greece with 41%.

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The information given in my post was based on this:
Our research suggests there are nearly 650 million obese adults on the planet, as defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30. There are also about 125 million obese children and adolescents in the entire world according to a BMI over 30.

I can’t help wondering if “Jamie Oliver” is rather out of touch with typical average family lifestyles and the pressure and choices that steer them towards takeaway food as a “treat”. I don’t think TV advertising has much to do with demand for takeaway, eat-in or drive thru “junk foods”. After all, with YouTube, Netflix, Musically, online games etc, do any kids still watch TV?

I support banning the marketing of junk food and drink, though we could debate what should come under this description. Advice from parents and teachers is useful but not all kids will receive it. I count myself as lucky that my mother discouraged me from taking sugar in tea and coffee when I was young, although I did not learn this until many years later. She did not buy fizzy drinks apart from at Christmas. Sweet drinks just taste wrong to me, presumably because of what I’m accustomed to.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that we are exposed to so much food that is ready to eat, whether we are out or at home.

“Marketing” involves not just advertising, but packaging and display in stores – drawing our attention to products. So we’d be dealing with anything someone deems not to be good for us? Maybe sweets, cakes, puddings, alcoholic drinks, fizzy drinks, drinks with artificial sweeteners, chocolate, jam…… Should all these be withdrawn from the shelves and only available on request?

No thanks. I am not in favour of someone who “knows what is good for us” banning what I should choose to eat, when I have a free choice. Educate people who want to listen as to what is considered, based on good evidence, a good diet (but how many of those have we been advised about?), and let them make their own decisions. School is a good place to do this.

The Italians come out 2nd in child obesity. Is this down to their basic diet? So perhaps we should ban Italian restaurants? I don’t think so.

Yeah, like the convenience store near me has a plasma tv up in its window advertising offers on fizzy drinks, junk food and takeaway meals.
Its on 24/7 and there’s a school right nearby it. The kids come right out of school and head straight into the shop to buy cheap sugary snacks

Jamie Oliver and co should stop messing around with food, let people eat what they want to. If someone wants to feed their kids 4 whopper meals a day, who are you to say differently