Against a background of increasing concern about growing childhood obesity, the Government asked Ofcom to research the contribution of television advertising of food and drink to children to the problem. In 2004, Ofcom reported back on an extensive body of research which demonstrates that television advertising has a modest direct effect, as well as a larger indirect effect, on children’s food and drink preferences.
The Government also asked Ofcom to consider whether to tighten the rules on advertising food and drink to children. Given the evidence, Ofcom concluded that there was a case for strengthening the rules for the advertising of food and drink to children on television. As a result, Ofcom developed three potential regulatory packages, each incorporating ways to reduce the number of food and drink advertisements children see. The three regulatory packages were:
A fourth option - an invitation to interested parties to develop an acceptable alternative which met core objectives - was also included.
Ofcom launched a public consultation process to gather responses to these options on 28th March 2006. As part of this consultation, Ofcom wished to actively seek public opinion on this issue, in particular:
To meet these objectives, Ofcom commissioned Opinion Leader Research to conduct a programme of deliberative research, consisting of; six one-day deliberative workshops with adults, four one-day deliberative workshops with teenagers (aged 12-15) and six one-hour group discussions with children (aged 8-11).
It should be noted that deliberative workshops and mini-groups are qualitative methodologies. Neither approach provides robust quantitative data, which would allow us to accurately measure consumer responses across the general public in the UK. Therefore, it is not possible to detail the precise proportions of responses on all discussion points, but an indication is given wherever possible of whether the findings represent a majority or a minority view.