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Tuesday 9 June, 2009

91% of consumers say ‘no' to toy meal deals

Australian consumers are sick of sneaky tactics used by food marketers such as using movie characters, toys and competitions to promote pester power and the purchase of unhealthy foods and drinks and want the government to intervene, according to the Obesity Policy Coalition's senior policy adviser, Ms Jane Martin.

"There is overwhelming public support for stricter government regulation of the various marketing methods used to promote junk food to children. Government regulation is needed to clamp down on these inappropriate marketing practices to protect children and help stamp out the growing problem of childhood overweight and obesity," said Ms Martin.   

The new research shows that 91% of consumers believe the government should regulate the use of toys and giveaways to market unhealthy food and drink to children and 55% believe this practice should be stopped completely. The results are from a survey undertaken by the Cancer Council Victoria into consumer attitudes towards obesity prevention initiatives.

In addition, 91% believe the use of popular personalities or characters to promote food to children should be regulated and further more 90% want regulations around competitions.

"In spite of 25% of Australian children being overweight or obese, there is currently no regulation to protect them and their parents from marketing techniques such as associating products with popular children's movie characters, and offering toys and competitions with purchase." 

"The community understands the power of these techniques and their success in  driving pester power in children.  Self-regulation is woefully inadequate to protect children. The industry codes and initiatives do not prevent the marketing techniques most commonly used, such as competitions, toys with fast food meals or the use of popular personalities," Ms Martin said.

The research also found that there are very high levels of approval for regulation to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food to children, including on commercial television.

Key findings

  • 91% of consumers believe the government should regulate the use of toys and giveaways to market unhealthy food and drink to children - with 55% believing the practice should be stopped completely.
  • 91% believe the use of popular personalities or characters should be regulated.
  • 90% of consumers believe that the government should introduce regulations around competitions used to promote unhealthy food and drinks to children.
  • 91% of consumers want stronger restrictions to reduce the amount of unhealthy food and drink advertising seen by children.
  • 88% of consumers were in favour of a ban on advertising of unhealthy foods at times when children watch TV - with 65% wanting a ban at all times.
  • 91% of consumers believe the government should regulate advertising on free to air TV which markets unhealthy food and drinks to children and 39% believe it should be stopped altogether.

About the survey

In December 2008, the Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, undertook a study of 800 adult consumers, who were the main grocery buyers across all Australian states and territories, to understand consumer acceptability of various obesity prevention policy initiatives.

About the Obesity Policy Coalition

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 Victoria, The Cancer Council Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the World Health Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University.

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