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Put children's health ahead of industry profits

18 February 2008

Time to put children's health ahead of industry profits

The time has come to restrict advertising of unhealthy food and drink to children, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

The Greens are calling on all political parties to put the health and wellbeing of children ahead of the vested interests of the food industry.

A new survey of 400 parents and grandparents, carried out for the Heart Foundation, has revealed almost all - 95 percent - think obesity is a problem and that about 80 percent want an end to the advertising of unhealthy food and drink to children.

"This latest survey shows there is overwhelming support for restricting advertisements for unhealthy food to children," Ms Kedgley says

"My preference is a restriction on advertising unhealthy food on television before 8.30pm.

"Television commercials targeting children encourage them to want unhealthy food and drink. This leaves parents and educators, trying to encourage healthy eating habits, fighting a losing battle with corporations who have multi-million dollar marketing budgets.

"Losing this battle means our children will pay the consequences in higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers. Even our own Government admits that if we take no action we face the very real possibility that this generation of Kiwi kids will be the first to die younger than their parents.

"Childhood obesity in this country looms as a human tragedy and the marketing of junk food is a contributing factor. Once children are hooked on high sugar, high fat foods, it is very difficult to change their eating habits. Dietary preferences developed in childhood can set children up for a lifetime of ill health.

"The logic for intervention is clear. Political parties that do not support restricting the marketing of unhealthy food to our children should just come out and admit that they have succumbed to pressure from the food industry. Where are their priorities? Do they really value commercial profits over the health of our kids?"

The Green Party believes that protecting our children from harm and supporting parents' ability to provide healthy diets must be paramount.


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