Fast food ads ‘promote unhealthy eating in Gulf’

Almost half of Gulf residents report that being exposed to fast food adverts — particularly those on TV — is making it harder for them to make healthy food choices. (AFP)
Updated 01 October 2018
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Fast food ads ‘promote unhealthy eating in Gulf’

  • Almost half of Gulf residents report that being exposed to fast food adverts — particularly those on TV — is making it harder for them to make healthy food choices
  • The survey found that 87 percent of people think that TV advertising affects children’s current food choices

Rebecca Spong LONDON: Exposure to fast food ads is contributing to poor eating habits in the Gulf, new research has found.
Almost half of Gulf residents report that being exposed to fast food adverts — particularly those on TV — is making it harder for them to make healthy food choices, according to a survey by YouGov Omnibus.
Over two-thirds of respondents living in Kuwait — the Gulf country with the highest levels of obesity — said that advertising was swaying them toward less healthy options.
Respondents were particularly concerned about children bring overly exposed to fast food TV advertising — with nearly a quarter saying their child asks for fast food after watching an advert.
The survey found that 87 percent of people think that TV advertising affects children’s current food choices and will influence their food choices as they grow up.
A total of four in five people think there should be laws regulating the level of fast food advertising during hours where children are most likely to watch television.
The survey found that two-thirds of people said buying fast food is an “impulsive” decision. This was typical behavior reported in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — the top three countries in the Middle East with the highest levels of obesity — where 70 percent said they bought fast food on impulse.
While the research found that four in five people said they knew that eating fast food leads to weight gain, there seems little sign that people in the region are working to reduce their intake, said Kerry McLaren, the regional head of YouGov Omnibus.
“YouGov data shows that although people are aware of the adverse effects of eating fast food and show general concern in lack of controls around its advertising, there is no direct resistance in overall consumption of fast food,” she said.
“In today’s society there is an expectation to be increasingly conscious of what we put in our bodies and yet this is not reflected in the communication we receive.
“Obesity rates are increasing, especially in the Middle East, so it is important for brands to be more responsible in their messaging and the imagery used in advertisements as it can have a significant impact on the food choices consumers make.”
Kuwait has an obesity rate of 37.9 percent according to World Health Organization statistics compiled in 2016, while the rate in Saudi Arabia and Qatar stood at 35.4 percent and 35.1 percent respectively.


French far-right weekly barred from Twitter over ‘hate speech’

Updated 19 February 2019
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French far-right weekly barred from Twitter over ‘hate speech’

  • Rivarol’s Twitter account “called for racial hatred and sympathized with crimes against humanity,” a government spokesman said
  • France, home to the biggest Jewish community in Europe, has seen a sharp rise in anti-Jewish offenses reported to police

PARIS: A French far-right magazine had its Twitter account suspended Monday, French officials said, after multiple complaints of hate speech including anti-Semitic abuse.
Rivarol’s Twitter account “called for racial hatred and sympathized with crimes against humanity,” a spokesman for the government’s racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination body (DILCRAH) said, adding it had repeatedly reported the account to the social media platform.
France, home to the biggest Jewish community in Europe, has seen a sharp rise in anti-Jewish offenses reported to police — up 74 percent last year.
A spate of anti-Semitic vandalism and graffiti in and around Paris in recent weeks has caused fresh alarm and sparked widespread condemnation.
Frederic Potier from DILCRAH welcomed the move by Twitter, saying it was thanks to a push “against online hate speech.”
In a tweet on February 13 that has now been removed, the weekly magazine wrote: “When I was a child I didn’t understand why Jews were detested by all people, all nations throughout history. Today I don’t even ask the question anymore. Actually I do, I wonder why they aren’t (detested) more.”
Sacha Ghozlan, head of the French Union of Jewish Students, told AFP: “It’s an important victory and a brake on this anti-Semitic rag that has been spreading hatred of Jews for years.”
“However, there is still a lot of work to be done on Twitter,” he said, adding that online abuse of Jews has long gone unpunished.
He said he suspected that Rivarol’s editor Jerome Bourbon — whose own Twitter account was already suspended — was personally behind the magazine’s tweets.
Several rallies against anti-Semitism are planned across France on Tuesday.