LiveLighter urges stronger restrictions on junk food marketing to kids
Australia’s leading healthy lifestyle program, LiveLighter, has called on government to take further action in restricting junk food marketing to children, following today’s announcement of the 2016 – 2020 Australian National Diabetes Strategy by Federal Health Minister Susan Ley.
“LiveLighter applauds the government’s broad based and coordinated approach to tackle this important health issue,” said LiveLighter Campaign Director, Maria Szybiak.
“While it is pleasing to see a commitment to reduce children’s exposure to the marketing activities of the junk food and drink industry, there is concern that voluntary measures proposed will be ineffective.”
The vast majority of foods and drinks marketed to children are high in sugar, fat and salt, and low in fibre and other beneficial nutrients.
Australia is bound by a complex web of voluntary codes and initiatives surrounding the marketing of junk food advertising to children.
“There is little if any evidence from here or elsewhere that voluntary codes are effective,” Ms Szybiak said.
“The current industry codes are rarely enforced and are frequently circumvented by advertisers who continually move the goal posts.”
Voluntary codes also fail to address the volume of advertising, the tactics used by the junk food industry and advertising that occurs during the most popular television programs viewed by children.
“Junk food marketing to kids is an important contributor to the epidemic of obesity, and we are not convinced that further voluntary measures will be of any benefit,” Ms Szybiak said.
Ms Szybiak said the most effective way to address junk food marketing to children, is to strengthen the government’s Children’s Television Standards to include a genuine code with strong enforcement provisions.
“Around two thirds of Australian adults and twenty five per cent of 12 to 17 year-olds are overweight or obese, a key driver of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and several cancers.
“This challenge needs to be addressed now before it starts to reduce life expectancy and further reduces quality of life in Australia.”
For media enquiries please contact Elizabeth Palmer, Communications Manager, on 08 9382 5935 or Elizabeth.Palmer@heartfoundation.org.au.