Food advertising directed at children

Nutrition Australia asserts that the food intake of children is an important contributor to their present and future health. Childhood obesity has been rapidly increasing with up to 25% of Australian children being overweight or obese. Although some recent research has indicated the rate of increase in childhood overweight and obesity in Australia may now be slowing, the implications for the future health of the young Australians who are overweight or obese are very concerning. Already, one identified major negative outcome is the rising rate of diabetes in childhood, and obesity and diabetes in adult life.

Food preferences of children are an important determinant of what they eat. The food preferences of children are heavily influenced by parents, carers, peer pressure and the media. Nutrition Australia believes that all of these areas should be targeted to improve dietary intake in childhood and adolescence.

Media advertisement is an area where government and/or industry regulation is accepted practice and advertising foods to children an important area currently poorly regulated. Approximately 30% of non program content during children's television viewing hours in Australia and New Zealand is for food. The majority of this food is of questionable nutritional value, a result found in many countries. Such advertising is directed at influencing the food preferences of children, and it has been shown to be effective at doing so. The consistency of food messages provided through television advertising with current dietary recommendations is poor. Children need to be protected from commercial influences, particularly those that have the potential to adversely impact on their present or future health.

Please see the attachment below for more information about Nutrition Australia's position on food advertising directed at children.

Published: February 2009

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