Call for junk food adverts to be banned during under 16's cinema screenings

Recent figures suggest obesity levels here are stabilising

Call for junk food adverts to be banned during under 16's cinema screenings

A selection of packets of sweets and chocolates | Alistair Wilson 50/50/PA Archive/PA Images

A Senator says junk food advertising during cinema screenings for under 16s should be banned.

Dublin Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone believes it is a necessary step to combat obesity.

She says: "As we continue to fight against childhood obesity, it is counterproductive to allow advertising of unhealthy foods, specifically aimed at children and teenagers.

"There is no doubt about the relationship between advertising high fat, sugar and salt products and consumption.

"Children going to see a film in cinemas with their parents are then subjected to adverts designed for children, promoting sweets and fast-food, while adverts promoting healthy alternatives do not appear.

"Junk food producers now have the ability to target Irish children in the cinemas, in their living rooms on TV and in their bedrooms through the internet.

"Until we address this issue we cannot turn the tide on childhood obesity, which every day creates more lifelong problems for young people".

Recent figures from the Health Service Executive (HSE) suggest obesity levels here are stabilising, but remain an issue.

Over four rounds of the surveillance from 2008 to 2015, it emerged that the levels of overweight and obesity in 1st class children (age 6-7 years) and those aged 8-12 years appear to be stabilising - though not in those children attending DEIS schools.

There is also a marked difference across genders - with more girls tending to be overweight and obese than boys.

International evidence points to a higher level of overweight and obesity in children from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The combined prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish children measured in 1st class (aged 6-7) as 16.9%, with the prevalence in girls at 20.4% and boys at 13.2%.

Fourth class (aged 9-10) is at 20.2%, with girls at 24.8% and boys at 14.5%.

While for those in 6th class (aged 11-12), the level of overweight and obesity is at 20.6% - with girls at 22.9% and boys at 18.0%.