DIETARY TIME BOMB STILL TICKING SAYS CONSUMER COUNCIL
<p>As Northern Ireland faces a childhood obesity epidemic, the Consumer Council says that today’s launch of OFCOM’s consultation into the television advertising of food and drink to children is only the start.</p>
Dr Sinead Furey, Senior Consumer Affairs Officer at the Consumer Council said: “In Northern Ireland, a third of boys and a quarter of girls aged 12 are overweight or obese. These children will die before their parents if the problem is not tackled urgently. So far, the voluntary approach to food promotion has failed - the Consumer Council believes that it is time for action. As part of the solution, OFCOM must consider introducing a watershed for food advertising to children and young people. Promotion of food products high in fat, sugar or salt should be banned or restricted immediately before, during and after children's programmes and programmes likely to appeal to children.”
Consumer Council research shows that there is 62 per cent more food advertising during children's viewing hours than family viewing hours.  In addition, the repetitive nature of advertisements for less healthy foods means that a child is more likely to ask for that product over another. The Consumer Council will publish the full research findings in April 2006.
1. Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, [email protected]
2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
For more information, visit our website at www.consumercouncil.org.uk
 The research covered six television channels in Northern Ireland in 2004. It looked at type, frequency and use of celebrity endorsements and cartoon character licensing in food advertising to children during children's viewing hours and family viewing hours.