Ban on ‘junk food’ marketing sought

HEALTH groups have called on the government to ban free toy and competition offers associated with junk food that are often marketed towards children.

The Obesity Policy Coalition, which includes VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria and Diabetes Australia, says persuasive marketing tactics should only be used to advertise healthy food and beverages to reduce Australia’s increasing childhood obesity rate.

Under a ban, food ranging from cereal and chocolate to soft drinks and meal deals could not use free toy, competition or celebrity-endorsed promotions if the food did not meet government-approved nutrition standards.

The call comes as a survey, commissioned by the Obesity Policy Coalition and conducted by Cancer Council Victoria, revealed that more than 90 per cent of Australians think the federal government needs to regulate the use of giveaways that promote unhealthy food and beverages.

The survey of 800 consumers also showed that 88 per cent of respondents favoured a ban on advertising of unhealthy food during children’s peak hours of television watching.

About 65 per cent wanted a complete ban on television junk-food advertising.

The study revealed that 91 per cent of people believed that the use of popular movie and cartoon characters in promoting unhealthy foods should be regulated while 90 per cent also wanted regulation of marketing strategies that used competitions to help sell unhealthy food.

The research results come less than a week after a parliamentary report into obesity moved away from recommending an end to the food industry regulating its own advertising, opting to give the self-regulation system more time to prove itself.

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