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Urgent review of kids' advertising code needed

27 March 2000

"There is an urgent need to review New Zealand's code of advertising to children to ensure that advertisements shown on television support, rather than undermine, healthy eating," Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said today.

Otherwise the government would have no alternative than to regulate a ban on all advertising around children's programmes, she said.

At present most of the food advertisements shown on television promote high fat, high sugar, high salt food that does not meet nutrition guidelines and is implicated in childhood obesity and other diseases.

"This means there is clear conflict of interest between public health goals of encouraging healthy eating and good eating habits in childhood, and the commercial interests of advertisers seeking to advertise food of low nutritional value to children," Ms Kedgley told a forum on Children's Rights in the Media today.

"At present, New Zealand's code of advertising for children does not even mention nutrition or responsible food advertising, as British codes do," Ms Kedgley pointed out. "The advertising code needs to be urgently revised to develop responsible food advertising."

One option would be to permit advertising for foods of lower nutritional value only in exchange for free broadcasting of nutrition promotion messages."

"At present alcohol advertising is permitted on television after 9.30pm in exchange for free broadcasting time for alcohol health promotion messages, worth $3 million dollars a year," said Ms Kedgley. "We may need to look at a similar arrangement when it comes to food advertising."

Advertising codes should also consider the total cumulative effect of advertising and not just the effect of individual advertisements, she said.

Sue Kedgley MP: 04 470 6728 or 025 270 9088 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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