Junk food advertising targeting children should be banned as part of the fight against childhood obesity, scientists say.
A new Otago University study reveals how advertisers use free toys, gifts, discounts, competitions, promotional characters and celebrity endorsements to sell junk food to kids.
Has there ever been a study out of Otago University that hasn’t concluded that the answer is to ban advertising of something?
Childhood obesity rates have risen from about 8 per cent in 2007 to 11 per cent in 2013. . This had corresponded with a rise of Type 2 diabetes in children, which was once known only as adult-onset diabetes.
Has advertising changed in those six years? No. So maybe the increase is due to other factors such as parents not ensuring their kids have a balanced diet and enough exercise.
But Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich, who represents members including Mars and Nestle, said the calls to ban the advertising were emotive.
There were already strict rules governing what food ads could be aired during children’s television programmes, she said.
“The idea of banning free toys and characters sometimes makes me think these people have forgotten the joys of childhood.”
She said past campaigns like the Milky Bar Kid and Cookie Bear had given a generation of kids fond childhood memories.
In New Zealand, Mars, Coca-Cola and Nestle all had policies of not targeting food ads at children.
Ultimately, controlling what children ate was a parental responsibility, she said.
“Children don’t stroll in to McDonald’s on their own.”