Calls for tighter restrictions on junk food ads

bigstock-London-Uk--November------214292947Victoria’s Obesity Policy Coalition is calling on the government to implement tighter restrictions around the marketing of junk food to children.

Packaging featuring popular cartoon characters and animations from Disney-branded foods are among a list of bad marketing practices the coalition found.

The coalition, made up of experts from Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Victoria, and Deakin University, found that more than one million Australian children are above a healthy weight.

A report by the group also found that there was no reduction in unhealthy TV food marketing to children between 2011 and 2015 despite a self-regulatory code being in place for almost a decade. The group insists that industry self-regulation has been a failure.

The report criticises free toys and other giveaways, in-store promotions, marketing material on social media and online games as well as sponsorship of junior sport by fast food outlets. The coalition’s executive manager Jane Martin said, “It is naive to entrust our children’s health to the same companies that are actively encouraging them to consume junk foods.”

“The end goal of the food industry will always be to make more profit. We know marketing directly impacts what children eat, what they want to eat and what they pester their carers for.”

Martin said the food industry claimed to be compliant in meeting the self-regulatory code but the “bar is set so low”.

“It’s time for government to step in and support families and communities to raise healthy children, free from the negative influence of junk food marketing,” Martin said.

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