The Obesity Policy Coalition has backed an election commitment announced today by the ACT Greens to restrict junk food advertising directed at children. The proposed plan would mean junk food advertising was no longer able to be shown on TV when large numbers of children are watching.
Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition, Jane Martin said the commitment by the ACT Greens was an excellent example of action individual states and territories in Australia could take to tackle the drivers of overweight and obesity in children.
"Restricting junk food advertising is an essential element of a comprehensive approach to tackle overweight and obesity. The evidence shows that junk food advertising has a significant impact on the types of food that children prefer, pester their parents for and consume."
"Restriction of junk food advertising is not just a Federal Government issue. The states and territories also have the power to act. As an example of this, it was very encouraging to see the Tasmanian government announcing last year its intention to investigate the types of media that could be covered by state legislation to reduce children's exposure to unhealthy food advertising."
Ms Martin said that investment in health promotion initiatives aimed at children was being undermined by the constant bombardment of junk food promotion.
"At present children can't escape junk food advertising, it's on TV, but it's also in many places where children visit or play so it's positive to note this proposal also includes cinemas and outdoor advertising."
"When a quarter of children in Australia are either overweight or obese, it is an ethical imperative for governments to start taking strong action in this area to protect children from marketing which is clearly targeting them. We know there is a high level of public support for restrictions in this area, with 83% of grocery buyers supporting a ban on television at times when children are watching."
"Food companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on advertising because they know that it works. Ask any parent and they'll tell you how effective it is. It's time the ethics of these marketing practices, particularly those designed to create pester power, was questioned."
The Greens' commitment is consistent with recommendations of the World Health Organization, which are endorsed by the Australian Government, that governments lead the development of comprehensive policy mechanisms to reduce children's exposure to unhealthy food marketing and eliminating it from children's settings," she said.
The Obesity Policy Coalition is a group of leading public health agencies who 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 and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity
Prevention at Deakin University.