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Food advertising in schools a concern

15 July 2005

Food advertising in schools a concern

Food advertisements in and around secondary schools are generally not compatible with nutritional guidelines for adolescents, with 70 per cent of food advertisements classed as unhealthy, according to a study in the latest New Zealand Medical Journal.

Food outlets selling unhealthy food are also prevalent in the vicinity of secondary schools.

The study, by researchers Anthony Maher, Nick Wilson and Louise Signal, says that there are likely to be many factors in the New Zealand and global obesity epidemic, but a key component is probably the “obesogenic” environment, of which one component is the high prevalence of food advertising and the nature of the food advertised.

“There is a need for more comprehensive studies into such advertising as well as consideration of policy options to control aspects of the growing rates of obesity in our society,” says NZMA Chairman Dr Ross Boswell.

There is increasing concern over obesity and related chronic diseases such as diabetes in New Zealand, says Dr Boswell, with 31% of New Zealand children categorised as overweight or obese.

Previous studies have reported that food advertising influences food preference and purchase behaviour by children. In addition, there is also evidence that overweight and obese children demonstrate heightened recognition of food advertisements and consume more food after exposure to such advertisements, compared to lean children.

This is the first New Zealand study to examine food advertising and food availability environments around schools.

Schools were randomly selected in both urban and rural areas and an area of 1 kilometre radius was examined around schools.

ENDS


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