Why Jamie Oliver is asking people to cover their eyes in photos for his latest healthy eating crusade

If there’s one thing that will make you want to ditch your good diet intentions and place a late-night takeaway order faster than you can say, “Supersize me”, it’s seeing a glistening pile of freshly cooked fries nestled next to a juicy burger during a TV ad break.

We all know that targeted food advertising can scarily influence the way that we eat, and now celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is calling for the government to think long and hard about the effect that it has on children.

The TV chef is campaigning for a ban on advertising unhealthy foods prior to the 9pm watershed, after he identified that as many as nine junk food adverts could be screened during a single episode of Britain’s Got Talent.

Junk food firms have already been banned from advertising their products during daytime programmes aimed at children, but now Oliver wants rules to be put in place to stop unhealthy foods being marketed during early evening family entertainment.

“Kids are bombarded, day-in, day-out, with ads for food and drink that are high in fat, sugar and salt. We’ve #AdEnough,” the TV chef tweeted of his latest campaign.

“If kids are targeted with cheap, accessible junk food, think how hard it must be to make better, healthier choices,” he added.

In a bid to help spread his message, Oliver has called on fans to show their support by sharing a selfie with their eyes hidden on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, with the hashtag #AdEnough.

“Right now, there’s nothing to protect our kids from seeing these adverts – apart from literally covering their eyes!” Oliver explained.

“We want a 9pm watershed on junk food ads on TV, and for controls on what kids see online, in the street and on transport.”

Loads of people, including celebrities, have rushed to show their support for the campaign over social media, with hundreds sharing awareness messages alongside images with their hands over their faces.

“I’ve learnt how much of an impact junk food marketing has on our children. We’re in the middle of an obesity epidemic and things have to change,” tweeted Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“I’m with Jamie Oliver. I’ve #AdEnough of kids being bombarded with junk food ads. Currently, the only ad-blocker they’ve got is covering their eyes – that’s crazy,” added McFly singer Tom Fletcher.

One mum (@littleveggieeats) posted about how she “works hard” to encourage her kids to “enjoy and eat loads of different healthy and fresh foods”, but has to battle against the fact that kids “want things their friends have, things they’ve seen in shop windows and things they have advertised to them.”

“Advertisers know this and they know the pester power of kids,” she added.

Government figures have found that nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese in the UK, while younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer.

The campaign comes as the UK recently joined the small number of countries that have introduced a tax on sugary drinks as part of an anti-obesity policy. Shoppers now pay 18p or 24p per litre extra depending on how much extra sugar has been added to their drink of choice.

“We urgently need the government to act,” the TV chef wrote on his website. “I really believe we can get this over the line – we’ve already got some amazing support in government, and from big names in the sport, health and food worlds. This could be a really key moment in our fight against childhood obesity, and I’d love you to be a part of it.”

Let’s hope that this is the first step in getting healthier messages across to children in advertising. We reckon if anyone can do it, it’s Jamie Oliver.

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