Almost three-quarters (73%) of adults surveyed said they would support a ban on unhealthy food advertising targeted directly at children. Whilst 75 per cent of parents surveyed felt current regulations were not strong enough to protect children from junk food TV advertisements.
Furthermore, 80 per cent of parents surveyed were also concerned with food companies using popular characters or famous celebrities to promote unhealthy foods to their kids.
Clare Hughes, Cancer Council’s Nutrition Program Manager, said the findings from the study illustrate that parents are looking for more help and better regulation to assist them to protect their children from the constant barrage of junk food advertising.
“With almost three-quarters (74%) of parents surveyed calling for stricter food advertising regulations on TV, this gives us a clear indication of the lack of support that parents feel with the current self-regulation system that is in place,” said Ms Hughes.
“With nearly a quarter of Australian children already overweight or obese, we know parents struggle to get their children to eat healthy foods. When you add into the mix the sophisticated marketing tactics that unhealthy food companies are using to target children, it’s leaving parents to fight an uphill battle.”
“Now more than ever, children are being exposed to so many different advertising techniques that parents alone cannot block out.
“The parents surveyed had real concerns about the use of popular personalities and characters (80%), and toys and giveaways to promote unhealthy food (77%).”
Following the release of the survey, Cancer Council NSW is releasing its new food marketing report Children’s Health or Corporate Wealth which emphasizes the level of promotion and channels that the food industry is using to promote unhealthy foods to children.
Ms Hughes says the report addresses the limitations of the current self-regulatory codes developed by the food and advertising industries.
“Our report outlines the need for comprehensive legislation restricting junk food marketing and advertising targeted towards children.
The government has community support so now they must call ‘time’ on the facade of self-regulation and introduce effective legislation that will give children meaningful protection from the influence of unhealthy food marketing.
“The Government needs to act quickly if they are to curb obesity-related illness and the subsequent costs.
“If we can stabilise or decrease obesity levels in Australia, half a million lives could be saved by 2050¹. That would mean fewer cases of obesity related cancers, heart disease and type 2 diabetes and less costs to the health system.”
For more information on the new ‘Children’s Health or Corporate Wealth’ report visit Children’s Health or Corporate Wealth
Media Contact: Gina Murphy, Cancer Council NSW, 02-9334 1428/ 0413 889 283
Filming and interview opportunities are available with Cancer Council NSW Nutrition Program Manager, Clare Hughes
Notes to editor:
NSW Community Survey on Cancer Prevention in 2013- Community attitudes on food marketing to children
Total NSW adult respondents = 2,474
No. of respondents that were parents of children under 18 years = 842
· 73% of NSW adults surveyed agreed that they would support a ban on unhealthy food advertising that targets children
· 75% of parents surveyed did not agree that the current regulations effectively protect children from viewing television advertisements for unhealthy food
· 74% of parents surveyed believed that the government should introduce stronger restrictions on unhealthy food advertising at times when children are watching TV
Parental concern about different types of unhealthy food advertising to children
The results showed that parents were very concerned or somewhat concerned when asked about the range of techniques used to promote unhealthy food to children.
· 82% of parents surveyed were concerned about the packaging of unhealthy food products being designed to appeal to children
· 80% were concerned about popular personalities or characters being used to promote unhealthy food to children
· 78% were concerned about the positioning of unhealthy foods sold in school vending machines
· 78% were concerned about the positioning of unhealthy food at supermarket checkouts
· 77% were concerned about the promotions of unhealthy food
· 77% were concerned or somewhat concerned about ads on TV at times when children were watching
References ¹National Preventative Health Taskforce. Australia: The healthiest country by 2020: A discussion paper. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2008. Gina Murphy- PR Manager Cancer Council NSW mailto:[email protected] T: (02) 9334 1428 M: 0413 889 283 PO Box 572 Kings Cross NSW 1340