Advertising impact probed

A study has revealed a "spike" in televised alcohol advertising between 16:00 and 18:00.
A study has revealed a "spike" in televised alcohol advertising between 16:00 and 18:00.

The government will launch an inquiry into the possible harmful effects of advertising on children amid fears of a rise in under-age binge drinking.

The probe is to be launched as part of the government's ten-year Children's Plan aimed at improving school and family life for the country's 11 million children.

Children's secretary Ed Balls said consultations with parents had revealed deep concern regarding the commercialisation of childhood and media images encouraging the "sexualisation" of girls.

Speaking ahead of the publication next week of the wide-ranging Children's Plan, Mr Balls explained that an average ten-year-old has internalised 300-400 different brands, with children exposed to some 10,000 television adverts every year.

"We will announce on Tuesday that over the next year we will do a public research study into the impact of commercialisation on children, their wellbeing and development," he said.

"We will commission this research project from leading child psychologists and academics to look at the cumulative impact on different aspects of childhood and their wellbeing - how our children are exposed to pressure and how this has changed over time.

"We need to look at the evidence around commercialisation before we jump to any conclusions."

He added that a "spike" in alcohol adverts shown between 16:00 and 18:00 - when many watch children TV - had been found after a study by Alcohol Concern.

"This is an issue which we will be looking at in the ministerial group over the next few months," Mr Balls said, though he stopped short of suggesting a ban on alcohol advertising before the 21:00 watershed.

The details of the advertising inquiry and the other facets of the ten-year Children's Plan are to be announced by Mr Balls on Tuesday.


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