Food quango investigated by advertising watchdog over “appalling” advert

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THE advertising watchdog has launched an investigation into Food Standards Scotland after they aired an “appalling” and “terribly informed” advert to combat diabetes.

On Monday Food Standards Scotland (FSS) launched a new campaign on STV and Channel Four, urging parents to cut back on their kids’ unhealthy snacking.

One of the ads features a girl being fed chocolate by her mother and telling viewers that when she is older being overweight means she will be “more likely to get diabetes”.

But the quango has suffered a huge backlash from type one diabetics and their parents – saying the ad shames those with their condition, which is completely unrelated to diet.

Now the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) are investigating the FSS, who have been forced to retract the inaccurate advert.

The amended ad, now showing on TV after 8pm
The amended ad, now showing on TV after 8pm

The series of anti-snacking adverts each features a parent and child, with the parent feeding the youngster unhealthy snacks to coax them into talking to the viewer.

When they speak they tell the viewer the various consequences that being overweight will have on them when they are older.

Sooner after they aired on Monday complaints about the mother-daughter advert began pouring in on FSS’s social media pages.

Caroline Heid – the mother of an eight year-old type one diabetic – branded the advert “appalling”, and said the quango needed to “seriously rethink” the campaign.

She added: “It beggars belief it was even made. To lump all those conditions together was bad enough but to see a child my daughter’s age saying those things was highly offensive and heartbreaking.

“What are people going to think when she says she’s diabetic if this campaign goes ahead? And during hypos I have to feed her sugar, how do I explain that?

“Totally utterly pointless campaign that will cost a fortune, lead to misinformation, eating disorders, more stigma and will not change eating habits one single bit.”

She also said she had shown the advert to her daughter, who feared that it would make others think she ate too much.

Bev Robertson added: “It was an absolute disgrace that either of those adverts made it on to TV. My uncle is type one and a few friends have kids with type one, so I understand how upset this is making people.

“I totally agree this will not help children but will only make them feel bad about things that are beyond their control.”

On Twitter other parents of type one diabetics piled in, with one saying: “I’m so glad my daughter never saw this ridiculous advert. She’d be devastated”

Another furious parent added: “My type one diabetic ten year-old son DID NOT get diabetes from eating chocolate.”

One more user suggested that the campaign would “misinform children and potentially increase the bullying” whilst another called it “terribly informed”.

An amended advert was aired on Wednesday – featuring a smallprint astrix with a caption which appears at the bottom of the screen when the girl speaks.

It reads: “Refers to type two diabetes.”

But parents remain displeased – with one sternly telling FSS: “The mildly amended advert is not good enough. The message is still chocolate equals diabetes. Scrap the ad.”

Charity Diabetes UK also condemned the ad on social media, saying they are “disappointed with the unclear message.”

Rupert Pigot – spokesman for the Scottish branch of the charity – added: “Thousands of adults and children across Scotland are living with type one diabetes, an autoimmune condition which is not currently preventable and is not caused by being overweight or eating too many sweets.

“People with all types of diabetes have to live with a misinformed stigma surrounding their condition and its cause, which can be upsetting and frustrating.

“Diabetes is a serious and complex condition and it’s important to be specific, particularly about type of diabetes, when we discuss it.”

A spokeswoman for the ASA said: “I can confirm we have received two complaints about the recent FSS ad and we are looking into it.”

A spokeswoman for FFS admitted that the distinction between the causes of type one and type two diabetes “was not made clear in the TV advert in question”.

But, she added: “A subtitle was then added to the advert to make it clear that the girl in the advert is referring to type two diabetes.

“In response to comments from members of the public with type one diabetes, or who have family or friends with type one, we replied directly or via our social media pages to advise of the action taken.

“Our campaign website also refers to type two, and directs consumers to the Diabetes UK website for further information. We believe that the actions taken eliminate the potential for confusion.”

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