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Link Between Advertising. Kid's Food Choices Solid

Link Between Advertising and Children’s Food Choices Strong, Say Report Authors
Media release, 6 July 2006

The authors of a report on the link between television watching and childhood obesity are standing by their findings, in wake of criticism from the Food Industry Group. The report was launched at the Public Health Association conference in Palmerston North yesterday.

The Food Industry Group, made up of representatives from the food and advertising industries, has questioned the link between fast food advertisements on television, what children are eating, and obesity.

However, report co-author Rob Quigley says numerous studies show a link between advertisements for high fat, high sugar or energy-dense foods and drinks, and overweight in children.

“The World Health Organization says that the heavy marketing of energy-dense foods and fast-food outlets is a probable cause of obesity. This is backed up by a comprehensive review of evidence, prepared for the British Food Standards Agency (BFSA), which concluded that food advertising can influence the food children like, buy and eat.”

He said the BFSA study found that food promotions influenced children’s preferences for high-fat, high-salt or high-sugar foods.

“Surely the Food Industry Group is not asking us to believe that advertising, which increases the consumption of virtually every other product, somehow doesn’t work for fast food?”

Rob Quigley says New Zealand is one of few developed countries that does not protect its children from excessive food marketing.

“This is of particular concern when you consider the increase in the total number of food advertisements per hour that we have seen from 1997 to 2005. This has resulted in a big increase in the proportion of food advertisements over time, from 29 percent in 1997 to 42 percent in 2005.

“Calls by the Public Health Association and the New Zealand Medical Association for a ban on the advertising of fast food to children are based on solid evidence.”

Rob Quigley says he is tired of the food industry using tobacco industry-style tactics to confuse the public about the true links between TV, advertising, dietary intake and obesity.

“Their tactics appear to be to confuse and unjustly criticise, with the hope of preventing the timely banning of the advertising of some foods.”


Rob Quigley is co-author Does watching television contribute to body weight and obesity in children?” Report commissioned by Agencies for Nutrition Action.


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