Honey Pops, which contains 28g of sugars and 0.84g of salt per 100g, has an advert heavily geared towards children. Should adverts like this be banned or do parents just need to learn how to say ‘NO’?

The World Health Organisation has released a report today accusing food companies of fuelling the obesity epidemic by bypassing the rules on advertising ‘junk food’ to children.

The report calls for tighter Europe-wide regulation on how foods high in fat, salt and sugar can be marketed to children.

“Millions of children across the region are being subjected to unacceptable marketing practices,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, regional director of WHO Europe. “Children are surrounded by adverts urging them to consume high fat, high sugar, high salt foods, even when they are in places where they should be protected, such as schools and sports facilities.”

Although there are strict rules on what can be advertised during children’s television programmes, food companies are finding ways to reach children through Facebook, computer games and ‘family’ programmes, such as ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and ‘X-Factor’.

Over 1 million children between 4 and 15 years old are thought to watch Britain’s Got Talent alone, which features commercials for fizzy drinks and chocolate.

Are the food companies wholly to blame?

Of course, there have to be strict controls in place to protect children from exploitation.

That’s because children lack the knowledge, experience and understanding to make good choices, which makes them very susceptible to advertising.

Especially when the advertiser pulls out all the stops, like this:

Personally, I would welcome tighter controls on this sort of child focussed advertising.

But surely the ultimate protection must come from parents?

Rather than waiting for legislation to ban those cute, catchy and loveable cartoon characters from our children’s viewing, is it not within our power to protect our children right now?

I know from personal experience that sometimes it’s a hard job as a parent to say NO… especially when your children come in singing ‘honey pops, yum yum yum’… but we owe it to our kids to do what’s right, rather than what’s convenient, don’t we?

After all, adverts do not make children fat. It’s parents who buy junk for their kids who make them fat.

What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment below.