The Parliamentary inquiry into obesity is all wrong.
Let's be clear, not a single shred of evidence exists that proves a causal link between food advertising and escalating childhood obesity.
However, it seems likely that following the Health Select Committee's Inquiry into Obesity and MP Debra Shipley's second reading of her Bill banning food advertising to children, the industry will be forced into strict self-regulation or could even face a total ban.
Certain key players, including Coca-Cola and Heinz, have already imposed self-regulating measures of varying degrees.
Coke will no longer directly market to under-12s, and Heinz has banned marketing to preschool children, as a result of the growing worries about children's health and obesity.
However, it is already evident that restrictions of this nature will neither reduce the obesity problem, nor impact on kids' inherent desires for the latest innovations in "unhealthy" foods. Bans on advertising food to children in Sweden and Quebec have not alleviated obesity levels.
Advertising itself is not a principal cause of obesity. Research proves that "peer pressure", family habits, socio-economic background, poor nutritional knowledge, high carbohydrate intake, changing habits in breastfeeding and, crucially, lifestyle and lack of exercise are more influential on the rise of obesity than advertising.
Research shows the average UK kid spends 11.4 hours a week watching TV or video, and just seven and a half on sport and exercise.
Blaming advertising sidesteps these causes and ignores an understanding of the psychology of children's rational and emotional considerations about appealing products. It presumes a linear decision process between the advertisements, children's desires and mums' purchasing decisions - which is over-simplistic and naïve.
Apart from the inherent difficulties of defining precisely which foods should be included in an advertising ban (scientific debate continues over the effects of fats and carbohydrates on obesity), its effectiveness would also be questionable.
It is impossible to avoid exposing children to food advertising.
Advertisements targeted at parents outside specific children's programming will often be seen by children who may be watching with mum and dad.
An advertising ban could have the effect of forcing kids' marketing underground, into the unregulateable worlds of promotions, merchandising and tie-ups.
Despite this, a ban would certainly damage the advertising and media industries. Marketing to children constitutes 75% of the food industry's annual advertising budget, that's about £100m of all TV revenue and 50% of all advertising to children in the UK.
Contrary to Ms Shipley's accusation, most people in the advertising industry would not deny the need to address the real causes of obesity in children.
Ms Shipley would be better advised to focus on finding further hard evidence of the causes of child obesity rather than attempting an unnecessarily damaging and misguided pre-emptive ban on food advertising.
Danielle Washer Consumer insight manager PHD