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Two Out Of Three Kiwis Support Clampdown On Unhealthy Food Marketing To Kids

A majority of Kiwis want unhealthy food marketing to kids regulated, Consumer NZ's latest survey has found.

Sixty-seven percent of consumers supported tougher rules to protect children from being the target of junk food ads.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said 78 percent of Kiwis felt children were exposed to too many ads for unhealthy food and drinks.

"Seven out of 10 felt these ads contributed to obesity and influenced what parents bought for their kids.

TV ads were the top worry, followed by online marketing, sponsorship and product packaging.Of those who were concerned about this type of marketing, 92 percent wanted a ban on TV ads for unhealthy foods and drinksat times whenchildren watch TV.

“For parents, a trip to the supermarket with children can be a minefield, with cartoonsand games slapped across unhealthy food products.We’re losing the battle of the bulge, with the second highest rate of childhood overweight and obesity in the OECD. Food marketinghas a big part to playin that,”Duffy said.

“Slick marketing also makes it difficult for parents to decipher which products are a healthy choice."

Consumer NZ’s report looked at 10 food products promoted for kids, including Nice & Natural Fruit Watches. They claim to be ”99% fat free” and“65%fruit juice”buthave two teaspoons of sugar per watchwith the sweetness from the juice topped up with glucose and added sugar.

Le SnakCheese Dipclaims to be “a good source of calcium” but is high in saturated fat and sodium.

"Children are a lucrative market forthe food and beverage industry.Kids influence what their parentsbuy,and marketers bank on themretaining purchasing habits developed when young. However, children are particularly vulnerable to marketing andthere’s evidence food marketing is linked to childhood obesity,"Duffy said.

Consumer NZ is callingfor regulation ofunhealthy food marketing to be a priority.

Existing voluntary regulation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) isn't working. The ASA is an industry-funded body that develops voluntary codes of practice and hears advertising complaints.

Duffy saidseveralpublic healthorganisations–including Health Coalition Aotearoa, the Cancer Society and Healthy AucklandTogether – alsosupport regulation.

Last year, in coalition with these groups, Consumer NZ made a submission to the review of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act recommending a mandatory standard within the Food Standards Code to regulateunhealthy food marketing to children.

Consumer NZ’s report on food marketing to children isavailable freeatconsumer.org.nzandwill bein theFebruary/Marchissue ofConsumermagazine.

© Scoop Media

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