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Obesity Comments DoNot Match Survey Results


05 July 2005

Spin On TV And Obesity Does Not Match Survey Results

The Food Industry Group says comments by the Public Health Association (PHA) and Agencies for Nutrition Action (ANA) on a new report on television watching and obesity do not match the actual results of the survey.

The PHA claims the report shows a link between watching television and childhood obesity, and concludes that “the time has come for a ban on advertising of fast food during children’s television programmes.”

Rob Bree, Executive Director of the Food Industry Group (FIG), said all groups involved in the obesity issue have a responsibility to be professional and responsible in their quest to find a solution to the disturbing rise in levels of obesity.

“No matter how well intentioned people are, if they misrepresent studies they are not getting us any closer to a real solution.”

“The results do not substantiate the PHA’s or ANA’s conclusions. The only real conclusion is that the sedentary activity of television watching is a possible substitute for physical activity and is accompanied by eating snacks – which is something most people would know from personal experience,” Mr Bree said.

A careful assessment of the ANA survey results shows;

1. Only that the more television children watch, the more likely they are to snack while doing so.

2. There is no link whatsoever between what children are watching on television (the programmes or advertisements) and the food they are eating.

What is generally not understood or acknowledged is that neither TV2 nor TV3 show advertising to pre-schoolers and that ‘after school’ viewing advertising is limited to 10 minutes per hour, only some of which are for food.

“Obesity is caused by factors such as individual food choice, total calories consumed, parental and peer influence, lack of nutritional education and lack of physical activity.”

“I applaud PHA and ANA for their pursuit of the same objective as the food industry in this matter. Their acknowledgement of the complexity of this issue and its solutions shows they know that the real solutions lie not with TV advertising, but across a broad spectrum of parental, personal and societal issues. The vast majority of children are not obese despite supervised exposure to advertising and supervised enjoyment of treat foods,” Mr Bree said.

What is the Food Industry Group?

The Food Industry Group (FIG) is made up of national representatives of the food industry and its partners including:

1. The New Zealand Food and Grocery Council.
2. Association of New Zealand Advertisers
3. Communication Agencies Association of New Zealand
4. All media, represented by the NZ Television Broadcasting Council and the Radio Broadcasters Association.

FIG’s key role is to implement the Food Industry Accord which is a voluntary initiative committing industry to the fight against obesity. It is the industry’s position that it needs to be part of the solution and will effectively partner with other groups to help New Zealanders make healthier lifestyle, as well as dietary, choices.


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