A report released by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) today highlights how ineffective self-regulation has been in decreasing children's exposure to junk food advertising.
Jane Martin, Senior Policy Adviser for the Obesity Policy Coalition, said that even by the AGFC's own analysis one in five food advertisements in children's programs were for high fat, sugar and salt products such as ice creams and soft drinks.
"The AFGC report doesn't cover the highest rating TV programs for children and excludes advertising by fast food restaurants, yet despite this it still demonstrates that around one third of all advertising for junk food products was aimed at children and two-thirds of these ads were created by companies that are signed up to the Responsible Children's Marketing Initiative (RCMI)."
"The AFGC study only reviewed advertising in programs classified as either P (preschool) and C (children) as well as some family movies. This analysis only applies to only a very small amount of the time children spend in front of the TV.
Shows such as The Simpsons, Modern Family and Junior Masterchef, which are some of the highest rating programs watched by children, were not included in this report," said Ms Martin.
"Junior Masterchef is a children's cooking show featuring child contestants, and was one of the highest rating programs for kids under 12 last year. But the AFGC says this is not a children's program. If high rating programs had been included we'd expect these figures to be far worse.
"There are also lots of examples of ads that feature children that the industry claims don't target children, including an ad for Kellogg's LCMs which showed children in a schoolyard trying to guess the flavour of an LCM snack bar in a child's lunchbox.
"We call on the government to step in, end the charade of self-regulation and implement effective legislation to protect children from junk food advertising," said Ms Martin.
The Obesity Policy Coalition is a group of leading public health agencies which are concerned about the escalating levels of overweight and obesity, particularly in children.
The Obesity Policy Coalition partners include Diabetes Australia - Vic, Cancer Council Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University.