Secretively-funded think tank criticises junk food ad ban

The group's views have been reported extensively in The Sun

A right-wing think tank which does not declare its funders has criticised the government’s proposed ban on advertising unhealthy food to children.

The secretively-funded Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has claimed that the proposals target too many types of food.

In response to campaigning from medical charities, the government is consulting on plans to ban advertising of food high in fat, salt and sugar before 9pm on television.

Advertising these foods at the end of supermarket aisles and offering discounts would also be banned.

Supporting these proposals, policy manager at Cancer Research Uk Malcolm Clark said:

“Young children who spent more than half an hour a day online, where advertising can be prolific, were almost twice as likely to pester their parents for junk food, according to a recent Cancer Research UK report.

There is strong evidence that suggests time spent online and watching TV increases the likelihood that children will ask for, buy and eat more unhealthy foods. If they didn’t, then the food industry wouldn’t spend so much on advertising.”

A poll commissioned by the Obesity Health Alliance found that 70% of the UK public supported the government’s proposals. The Liberal Democrats and Labour do too.

The IEA though disagrees. A recent report authored by IEA researcher Chris Snowdon argued that the definition of junk food was too broad.

The Sun covered this report heavily with a news story, a comment piece from Snowdon and a leader column.

The IEA has previously criticised bans on cigarette advertising, claiming a ban would damage the economy and public health. Snowdon himself has published a whole book criticising the “anti-smoking” movement.

The IEA refuses to declare who funds it but said that it gets hundreds of thousands of pounds a year from “large businesses”.

Left Foot Forward emailled IEA spokesperson to ask if the IEA received funding from food or advertising companies.

The spokesperson did not respond to this question but, commenting on this article in general, they said: “We believe this article contains factual inaccuracies and potentially libelous statements. The IEA retains all its legal rights.”

When asked what specifically the IEA regards as factually innacurate or libellous, the spokesperson replied: “With respect, I am not here to do your job for you. Much of the information you need to answer this question is available in the public domain.”

At the time of publication, the spokesperson had not said which statements they regarded as inaccurate.

Last week, Left Foot Forward revealed that another secretively-funded think tank, the ‘Taxpayers Alliance’, had been campaigning against clean air proposals.

Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and a reporter for Left Foot Forward

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4 Responses to “Secretively-funded think tank criticises junk food ad ban”

  1. Christopher Snowdon

    “Revealed: Secretively-funded think tank criticises junk food ad ban”. Well done on revealing this. We thought we’d managed to keep it under wraps by merely publishing a briefing paper, making a video, issuing a press release and writing for the most-read paper in the country, but you were too smart for us.

    Good luck on your fund-raising campaign and well done on finding someone who will double the donations if you get to £10,000. You will, presumably, be naming all these donors on your website?

  2. Ronald McDonald

    Curses! Chris I can’t believe our plan has been rumbled. You can go back to being a vegan teetotal communist now, as you were before our fnuding. Now your donors are just the FaceApp and the darts…

  3. The Colonel

    I can reveal as a large business owner that I have provided funding to the IEA and have forced it to take this liberal position on the junk food advertising ban. In my opinion the only advertising ban should be on reporting my secret recipe of 11 spices.

  4. Patrick Newman

    TPA, ASI, IEA are not institutions or think tanks or professional associations – they are all sinisterly and secretly funded Right-wing propaganda organisations probably with strong political and funding connections with the American extreme Right. Readers of this website should protest to the BBC – especially about the IEA as they seem to be rolled out when the BBC feels erroneously it needs to balance programmes with extreme views. There is no shortage of organisations on the Right which are openly funded. It is completely unacceptable that the national broadcaster uses these undercover bodies! What next – ‘balance’ a discussion on immigration or Islam by inviting Tommy Robinson to participate?

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