Fast food ads targeting parents, not kids
Health campaigners have turned their attention to television sponsorship in recent weeks and have called for an end to fast food advertising during children's programmes.
The HSE clinical lead for obesity Professor Donal O'Shea has slammed the use of ad by fast food companies as sponsorship during the weekly Big Big Movie on Saturday evenings on RTÉ.
He has called for RTÉ to drop McDonald's as a sponsor and expressed concerns that it is 'blatantly targeting children'.
I think Professor O'Shea has a valid point and of course, fast food is never going to be the best choice of food to be feeding our kids.
However, the idea that kids see the McDonald's sign and nag their parents into submission to take them there is a little unrealistic.
We cannot pretend that fast food and unhealthy options don't exist but it is up to parents to educate their kids on this and while they are very young, to make the healthy choices for them.
Kids can't go into McDonald's and order a Happy Meal without their parents, so isn't the advertising campaign really targeted at parents?
While the company has outlined that it has gone beyond the current marketing regulation in relation to children, I think it is worse to suggest that having a bag of carrot sticks on the kids' menu means that it makes it healthier.
They will still want the happy meal and the cheap toy therein. It's the parents who will order the fruit or yogurt to try and negate from the unhealthy meal they have purchased and to try and achieve some balance.
The fact is that these ads won't make anyone more likely to go to McDonald's. If you like fast food, you are already long- familiar with this iconic brand, and if you don't, then seeing a picture perfect family image on the screen isn't going to be enough to lure you in. The problem, anyway, is not with having the occasional McDonald's. It's about the regular consumption of processed foods high in salt, fat and sugar.
There are so many products on the market aren't healthy but it is up to the individual to make their own choices.
At the end of the day advertisers can promote whatever they want, but it doesn't mean we have to buy it.