With the aid of obesity experts, a revelation has been made on the underhand advertising tactics used by junk food companies to promote their products as healthy foods targeting children. ‘End the Charade,’ a report released by the Obesity Policy Coalition highlighted corporate failure in the food labelling industry in matters of self-regulation with obvious cases such as the labelling of Coco Pops by Kelloggs as a ‘healthier dietary choice’; thus enabling Coco pops to be advertised to children.
Jane Martin, OPC’s Executive Manager, pointed out that Australia’s system for protecting children against unhealthy food marketing has deteriorated; in spite of available evidence of the influence such marketing impacts on children. Considering a quarter of the children in the country are overweight or obese, she added that children’s well-being should not be charged to food and advertising companies as they care more about making food sales as opposed to improving health for the next generation.
According to The Herald Sun, Ms. Martin called for more stringent government regulations on food advertising; terming the current regulations as a failed joke. According to Ms. Martin, companies such as Nestle make use of loopholes in the current regulations to directly target children in their junk food adverts. Such loopholes include the use of fairytale images on their Wonka Cookie Creamery chocolate which despite containing 76 grams of sugar, Nestles says the chocolate was meant to give adults a wistful sense of their upbringing.
Peter’s ‘Zombie Guts’ icy-poles, another offender according to the report, supposedly ended their advertising campaign just before a complaint could reach the Advertising Standards Board.
Ms. Martin says that in Australia, 35% of children’s diets and 45% that of adult diets are comprised of unhealthy foods. In addition to this, unhealthy diets and weight related disease are on the rise and so are the cases of obesity in children in the country. With this in mind, she stressed, “…we cannot allow the charade of self-regulation to continue.”
In another comment, she implied that the food labelling and advertising businesses appear to be concentrating on the mere creation of the impression that they are engaged in their corporate social responsibility and in doing so ward off stricter government regulations. Ms. Martin believes that it is only through significant improvements initiated by the government that an end or reduction to the exposure of children to these kinds of advertisements as well as their improved diets and health can be attained.