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Green call for controls on food advertising on TV

20 February 2000

Green call for controls on food advertising to children

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling for controls on TV food ads broadcast to children, after a new report showed that ads are promoting an unhealthy diet during children's viewing hours.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, found that advertising for unhealthy foods dominated food ads played during children's shows on TV2, with 63 per cent of the food advertised high in fat and /or sugar. (See attached article).

Ms Kedgley, the Green Party spokesperson for both Health and Broadcasting, said restrictions on the advertising of low-nutrient, fattening food would put a stop to the "junk is good" message that children were getting from television.

"The best option would be to follow the lead of Sweden and Norway who do not allow any advertising at all during children's TV programmes," said Ms Kedgley. "At the very least, our advertising codes of practice for children should be revised so that food ads are in line with nationally agreed health and nutrition guidelines. The code should prohibit advertisements which undermine healthy eating education or condone excessive consumption of unhealthy foods."

Ms Kedgley said children were continually being exposed to a food universe on TV where food consisted of high-fat, high-sugar snacks, sweets, soft drinks and fast food.

"New Zealand children watch on average more than two hours of TV every day, and a large proportion of the more than 20 minutes of advertisements they will see during this time will be for high risk foods which do not even meet New Zealand's nutritional guidelines."

"The foods which appear most often on television are the very foods that have been implicated in childhood obesity, dental problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers in adults," said Ms Kedgley. "Poor diet is a serious health issue, and there is little point spending money on nutrition education if the healthy eating messages directed at children are undermined as soon as they sit down in front of a TV."

Ms Kegley said international research had shown that children's food choices were strongly influenced by what they see on TV.

"If we are serious about improving the health of our children, we must act immediately to restrict the flood of advertisements for unhealthy foods that they are being exposed to."

Sue Kedgley MP: 025 270 9088 Gina Dempster, Press Secretary: (04) 470 6723

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