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Dental Association calls for marketing regulations

10 July 2018

Media release

Dental Association calls for marketing regulations as study reveals Facebook sugary drinks marketing push

A paper in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health has shown high engagement by young people with sugary drinks brands online.

The study from The University of Adelaide looked at Facebook engagement of people aged 13 to 25 with six of the top soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks Facebook pages.

One sports drink in the study had the highest rate of engagement, despite having the least followers, with over 333 engagements – likes, comments, or shares per 1000 followers.

The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) is keen to see tougher regulations in the marketing of sugary drinks to children.

“Traditional advertising, such as TV, print and billboards can be seen by the public, health advocates, and regulators. Social media advertising can be more targeted to individuals, and it becomes difficult to monitor,” said NZDA sugary drinks spokesperson Dr Donna Kennedy.

“We’ve seen these advertising themes before, such as masculinity and sport, these adverts use Facebook to place sugary drinks in a context important to young people,” says Dr Kennedy.

“We don’t allow tobacco and alcohol Facebook advertising to young people, yet we accept sugary drinks brands targeting our kids.”

Last year, NZDA was one of several groups that complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over Pepsi Max emoji caricatures of the All Blacks, which was argued encouraged young people to collect drink cans. The campaign was heavily promoted on Facebook, as well as in print, and bus stop adverts. The complaint was settled as the advertiser took down the adverts voluntarily.

A consortium of public health groups is backing a NZDA-led 7-point Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks, including independent monitoring and evaluation of food and drink marketing.

The seven actions are;

1) Introducing an icon on drinks indicating, in teaspoons, the amount of sugar in each drink.

2) Independent monitoring and evaluation of food marketing, with an emphasis on marketing that influences children.

3) Urging the government to adopt WHO limit guidelines on sugar.

4) Encouraging public to switch to water by; introducing warning labels highlighting sugary drinks as risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay, and a nationwide social marketing campaigns such as ‘Switch to Water’.

5) Working with schools and the Ministry of Education to introduce ‘water only’ policies.

6) Introducing local council ‘water only’ policies at council facilities and events.

7) Introduction of a ‘sugary drinks’ tax in line with WHO recommendations.

The Consensus Statement is endorsed by; Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa (ANA), Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Cancer Society of New Zealand, Diabetes New Zealand, Hapai Te Hauora, NZ Dental & Oral Health Therapists Association, NZ Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Paediatric Dentistry, NZ Society of Hospital and Community Dentistry, Te Ao Marama, The Heart Foundation, The Public Health Association, The Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.

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