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New classifications for TV ads miss mark

New children's food classifications for TV ads miss mark
Obesity Action Coalition

15 May 2008

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) says the new system which restricts the advertising of certain foods in children's programming time will only do half the job.

Director Leigh Sturgiss says research shows many children watch television outside the hours in which the restrictions apply.

"We know from Broadcasting Standards Authority figures that over 30 percent of children are still watching TV at 8.30 at night – well after the restriction on showing ads for certain unhealthy children's food is over.

"Kids' favourite TV shows are The Simpsons, Spongebob Squarepants, Shortland Street and Home and Away. Only Spongebob Squarepants is shown during the recognised children's viewing time which ends between 4.30pm and 6pm.

"As well, the new code is self-regulatory, with no penalties for non-compliance and a somewhat confusing method of deciding which TV ads qualify."

She says while the restriction of advertising of certain types of food during children's viewing hours is a step forward, it does not go nearly far enough.

"There is strong evidence that advertising and marketing has an effect on what children prefer, buy and eat. Serious consideration needs to be given to extending children's 'viewing hours' to at least 8.30pm, if not later."

She says the code also needs to be extended beyond television advertising.

"TV is just one way kids get marketing messages. Websites, print media, cell phone texts, sponsorship, branding and even curriculum materials in schools are other ways food manufacturers reach and influence children.

"If advertising were only used to promote healthy food it could help prevent obesity, many obesity-related diseases like diabetes and some cancers, and ultimately provide savings to tax-payer funded health services."

ENDS


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