Two-thirds of Kiwis want clampdown on junk food ads to kids — Consumer NZ survey

Source: 1News

Two in three Kiwis want tougher rules to protect kids from being targeted by junk food advertisers, a Consumer New Zealand survey has found.

Associate Professor Louise Signal from the University of Otago says new research shows the level of advertising children are exposed to.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said 78 per cent of those surveyed felt children were exposed to too many ads for unhealthy food and drinks.

TV ads were the top worry, followed by online marketing, sponsorship and product packaging. 

Of those who were concerned about junk food marketing, 92 per cent wanted a ban on TV ads for unhealthy foods and drinks at times when children watch TV.  

Seven out of 10 survey participants said they felt the ads contributed to obesity and influenced what parents bought for their kids.

"Children are a lucrative market for the food and beverage industry. Kids influence what their parents buy, and marketers bank on them retaining purchasing habits developed when young.

“However, children are particularly vulnerable to marketing and there’s evidence food marketing is linked to childhood obesity," Duffy said.

“We’re losing the battle of the bulge, with the second highest rate of childhood overweight and obesity in the OECD. Food marketing has a big part to play in that.

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

Duffy said new rules are needed, because existing voluntary regulation by the Advertising Standards Authority, which has voluntary codes of practice and hears complaints about ads, “isn’t working”.

Duffy said several public health organisations – including Health Coalition Aotearoa, the Cancer Society and Healthy Auckland Together – also support regulating junk food ads targeted at kids.