NHS chief executive Simon Stevens says that adverts centred around body image shown during the breaks in ITV2’s Love Island are contributing to a mental health crisis in young Britons.
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The series has come under scrutiny this year for a lack of diversity in the shapes and sizes of its stars – and now Stevens has singled out the adverts, saying that “explicit ads aiming at young women around breast – cosmetic – surgery” are “playing into a set of pressures around body image.”
“If you look at the increasing pressures on young people around eating disorder services, we have to think about the whole environment which children are being exposed to,” he said on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
“Some of that is social media but even if you take a show like Love Island – look at the adverts that are being shown alongside Love Island.”
He continued: “The time has come to think long and hard about whether we should be exposing young people to those kinds of pressures. Social media and advertising has got to look very carefully at the kinds of impacts that it is having.”
Stevens’ timing was spot on – an ad promoting an appetite suppressant called Skinny Sprinkles during Sunday night’s episode of Love Island drew ire on social media.
“Fuming about the Skinny Sprinkles ad in the break of Love Island on ITV hub,” @inf1nity_bey0nd tweeted. “Just making money from the insecurities of people made to feel like s*** by comparing themselves to everyone on the show.”
Also fuming about the “skinny sprinkles” ad in the break of Love Island on ITV hub.— ✨big tit thief✨ (@inf1nity_bey0nd) July 1, 2018
Just making money from the insecurities of people made to feel like shit by comparing themselves to everyone on the show
Skinny sprinkles during the love island adverts… can we not just promote a balanced diet and exercise instead?
— Connor (@cjperl) July 1, 2018
An ITV spokesperson told RadioTimes.com: “ITV takes its responsibility to viewers very seriously and ensures adverts broadcast during our programmes adhere to the The UK Code of Broadcast Advertising’s rules on the content and scheduling of advertising.”
Love Island continues on ITV2 at 9pm each night