Letter to The Australian

Thursday 13 August, 2009

 

Yesterday's editorial ‘No magic puddings' on the banning of junk food advertising to children completely missed the point - this is not what some mythical nanny state is trying to impose, it's what parents want. A recent survey of 800 Australian consumers undertaken by the Cancer Council Victoria found that a resounding 91% of respondents wanted stronger restrictions on TV junk food advertising to reduce the amount of ads seen by children.

Parents want this because their efforts to encourage children to eat healthily are undermined by million-dollar marketing campaigns that push high-fat/high-sugar/high-salt foods onto their children.

Arguing that advertising is not a critical influence on children's food choices defies logic. As the US Institute of Medicine state "advertising works". This is self-evident, why else would McDonalds, KFC, Mars, Nestle among others spend millions of dollars to promote their products?

Overweight and obesity among children is a complex problem that parents can't solve on their own. Addressing the problem will require a strong and comprehensive approach involving parents, schools, community organisations, health professionals and the food industry. However, ultimately government must show stewardship by developing policies that support healthy choices, and restricting junk food marketing is one example.

Jane Martin
Senior Policy Advisor
Obesity Policy Coalition