Toxic fat ad relaunched as junk food home deliveries double

10/08/2020

Cancer Council WA has relaunched the LiveLighter 13 Cancers public education campaign to remind Western Australians not to be complacent with their health, just as junk food giant McDonald's boasts record home delivery sales during COVID-19[1].

Cancer Council WA’s Obesity Prevention Manager, Kelly Kennington, said junk food companies need to be called out for their unethical marketing tactics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With people stuck at home, McDonald's have been quick to capitalise on the pandemic, adapting their marketing strategies to cash in on isolation and push their unhealthy food and drink menus on Australians to the point that home online delivery orders have now doubled since COVID-19 began,” Ms Kennington said.

“Most people don’t know about the link between body weight and cancer, which is why we need to remind the public to take action, eat well, move more and maintain a healthy weight – and not to get sucked in by the marketing tactics employed by the junk food industry.”

Ms Kennington said the junk food industry, which includes sugary drinks, is driving a worldwide obesity epidemic through its marketing tactics; and it is predicted that obesity will cost the WA health system $610 million by 2026.

“At a time when the junk food industry is trying to boost sales, the LiveLighter advertisement is trying to counter this marketing by raising awareness of the dangers of being above a healthy weight,” she said.

“Sugary drinks are the focus of the ads because we know that they’re one of the big contributors of empty kilojoules in our diet. They can lead to weight gain, toxic fat and an increased risk of 13 types of cancer.”

Ms Kennington said that encouraging Western Australians to maintain a healthy weight is an urgent priority for Cancer Council WA, and that almost 200,000 cancer cases could be avoided in Australia over the next 25 years if all Australian adults could achieve and maintain a healthy weight and met the physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention.[2]

“Given two thirds of WA adults are above a healthy weight and nearly half are not active enough, research shows we have the potential to prevent a significant number of cancers in WA and save thousands of lives,” she said.

“One of the easiest things people can do to reduce their risk is to reduce sugary drink consumption.”

Ms Kennington said Australians drink approximately 1.43 billion litres of sugary drinks each year, and alarmingly, 47 per cent of Australian children consume sugary drinks on any given day[3].

“Many people don’t realise the impact of sugary drinks on weight gain. For example, one 600mL bottle of regular soft drink contains 16 teaspoons of sugar,” she said.

“Cutting down on sugary drinks is critical as this is sugar our bodies just don’t need.”

The campaign will be seen across mainstream TV and radio, metro, regional and Indigenous networks, cinemas, bus stops, shopping centres and across various digital platforms in WA. It will run until 3rd October 2020.

ENDS

Media Contact: Jane Simpson, 0438 682 548 jane.simpson@cancerwa.asn.au

Background

  • Research has shown that 13 types of cancer are more common in people who are above a healthy weight, including cancers of the oesophagus, breast (in postmenopausal women), liver, gallbladder, kidney, bowel, multiple myeloma, meningioma, thyroid, gastric cardia, pancreas, ovaries and uterus.
  • LiveLighter is funded by the Department of Health, and delivered by Cancer Council WA.
  • More information is available via the website livelighter.com.au about how to make small lifestyle changes to improve people’s health.

Obesity Rates

  • Overweight and obesity rates in WA continue to climb. Currently in WA, just over one-quarter (26.3%) of children are overweight or obese. Nearly 70% of adults are overweight or obese.
  • In 2011, 62,962 inpatient submissions in WA were attributable to excess body mass.
  • In addition, there were 8,655 emergency presentations attributable to excess body mass in that same year.
  • The impact of being above a healthy weight presents enormous health challenges for Western Australians and puts our health services under increasing pressure. Collectively, the independent risk factors of overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, and inadequate diet are second only to tobacco as modifiable risk factors for cancer.
  • Western Australian children and adults are also not meeting the Australian Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake. Only 6.9% of WA adults and 5.8 % of WA children are meeting the recommended serves of two fruit and five vegetables.
  • Compared to the general population, obesity rates are significantly higher amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those experiencing lower socio-economic status (SES) and people living with a mental illness.

Notes to editor

'Obesity is a very serious health issue, but we recognise it can be a sensitive issue for many people with often complex underlying causes (including clinical). Cancer Council WA is committed to conveying the seriousness and urgency of this issue for our community, while ensuring respectful reporting for individuals affected. With this in mind, we urge editors and producers to refrain from using imagery in stories about obesity that would fuel stigma toward individuals. We would be happy to provide alternative image suggestions, if helpful'.

[1] The Australian newspaper, Page 16, Monday 3 August 2020

[2] Wilson, L., Baade, P., Green,  A., Jordan, S., Kendall, B., Neale, R., Olsen, C., Youlden, D. Webb, P., Whiteman, D., The impact of changing the prevalence of overweight/obesity and physical inactivity in Australia: An estimate of the proportion of potentially avoidable cancers 2013–2037, 2018

[3] Litres of sugary drinks consumed by Australians http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0072011-12?OpenDocument – Table 18: Consumption of Sweetened Beverages; Sugary drink consumption by kids - https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by Subject/4364.0.55.007~2011-12~Main Features~Consumption of Sweetened Beverages~710