01.Unhealthy foods marketed at children
Many unhealthy foods, such as Kellogg's Coco Pops, Arnott's Tiny Teddies and Nestle's Smarties, are being advertised to children because they are classified as healthy under the companies' own nutrition standards, according to new research from the Cancer Council NSW.
There are currently two self-regulatory initiatives that govern food advertising towards children. The voluntary advertising code applicable to food and grocery manufacturers allows companies to set their own nutrition standards for what is healthy and what is not, meaning foods that fail more robust and scientific health assessments are able to be marketed to children.
The Cancer Council's research found that 61% of food ads shown on TV were 'unhealthy' and would fail Food Standards Australia and New Zealand's nutrient profiling criteria (the system which determines whether a food product can carry a health claim or not).
Cancer Council NSW's nutrition program manager Clare Hughes, former CHOICE head of food policy and one of the study's authors, says that the results show food companies have "set their own criteria so low that foods high in sugar and saturated fat can still be advertised to children".
"We also found loopholes in the fast food code. Currently it only covers advertising of children's meals, but our study found foods like KFC's Mint Choc Krusher, and McDonald's Chicken N' Cheese Burger which aren't children's meal[s] can still be advertised to children."
Researchers analysed a total of 116 food advertisements that went to air on three Sydney stations between 6am and 9pm over a two-week period.
One in four children in Australia are overweight or obese, and the study concluded that the current self-regulatory industry initiatives have not reduced children's exposure to unhealthy food advertising over time.
CHOICE has previously looked at the issue of junk food marketing towards kids.