SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – July 2000

School meals: a new diet of reason. Congratulations to the Food Standards Agency for ensuring that the new government guidelines on school meals are sensible, realistic and – perhaps most importantly – avoid the prescriptive moralising that has characterised so much health promotion in the past. SIRC has repeatedly warned health promotion bodies about the dangers of banning or attempting to restrict consumption of so-called 'unhealthy' foods – particularly where children are concerned, as this creates a counter-productive 'forbidden-fruit effect', whereby children's desire for the banned or restricted product is increased, and they are likely to consume much larger quantities outside the restricted context. Full Story.

Slim summit. Why were there no representatives of the £2bn slimming industry at Tessa Jowell's summit on eating disorders? Why were there no proposals from the government for regulation of this industry, which cynically exploits young women's anxieties about their bodies? Why, in all the media coverage of the summit, was there not one mention of the role of the slimming and diet industry in promoting unhealthy obsession with weight and body-size? Full story.

Naming and Praising Update. A SIRC 'Naming and Praising' Award – for responsible reporting of health and science issues – goes to BBC Online for their item on new worries about the contraceptive pill. Full Story.

Media and government duped by slimming industry. The £2bn UK slimming industry has yet again obtained many pages of free advertising from our more gullible newspapers – and despite cynical exploitation of the anxieties of young women about their weight, will not be held to account at Tessa Jowell's summit on eating disorders.

A Slimming Magazine survey generated the sort of headlines the diet industry loves, such as "Being fat makes us miserable and ruins our sex lives" in the Express, followed by uncritical reports which failed to make any mention of the vested interest Slimming Magazine (which also runs a chain of lucrative slimming clubs) might have in hyping the miseries of being overweight and the benefits of slimming. Full Story.