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Is co-regulation protecting Aussie kids from junk food ads? Presentation to the 18 th Consumers International Congress Protecting children from food marketing.

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Presentation on theme: "Is co-regulation protecting Aussie kids from junk food ads? Presentation to the 18 th Consumers International Congress Protecting children from food marketing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Is co-regulation protecting Aussie kids from junk food ads? Presentation to the 18 th Consumers International Congress Protecting children from food marketing Success stories and lessons learned Clare Hughes Senior Food Policy Officer

2 Childhood obesity in Australia 20 – 25% of children are overweight or obese. Energy consumption increased by 10-15% between 1985 and 1997. NSW SPANS study: Children are more active Eating too many high energy, nutrient-poor food such as confectionery and soft drink

3 Food marketing to kids 81% of food ads for unhealthy/non-core foods. Peaked when children are more likely to be watching – after school, early evening, Saturday mornings. (Chapman et al, 2006)

4 More than just TV ads Online marketing techniques – Advergames, e-cards, viral marketing, product placement in cyber games, screensavers and wallpapers. On-pack promos – Favourite characters, spokescharacters, movie tie-ins, competitions, giveaways, collectibles. Sports sponsorship and fundraising Children’s magazines, billboards etc



7 Commonwealth Government responses “The Government wants to support, motivate and educate Australians to build a healthy, active life, not to regulate or ban.” Health Minister Tony Abbott 16 July 2006 “Look, ads don't make people fat. What they eat makes people fat and what goes into people's mouths is controlled by the individual concerned. And if parents are worried that their kids are getting fat, well, parents can readily do something about it by taking the soft drink out of the fridge, by taking the fast food off the menu, by trying to ensure that the kids walk to school rather than just get driven to school. These are the things that we ought to do about fat kids rather than think there's some magic bullet by banning advertising……….This is not an area where government can substitute for parents.” Health Minister Tony Abbott 14 September 2005 Food advertising is a Commonwealth responsibility not State Health Ministers.

8 Co-regulation

9 Co-regulation in Australia Government FSANZ – Food Standards Code ACMA - Children’s Television Standards ACCC - Trade Practices Act Industry AANA Food and Beverage Marketing Communications Code Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice

10 Children’s Television Standards (CTS) Content of ad must not mislead Pressure in advertising Clear and fair representation Must not contain any misleading nutrition information Competitions and premiums Endorsements by program characters Under review

11 Food and Beverage Marketing Communication Code Specific to food and beverages Broader than just advertising Shall not undermine healthy lifestyle Shall not encourage excessive consumption Shall not encourage pestering

12 Codes do not adequately address…. Imbalance of ads for healthy v unhealthy foods Children don’t just watch children’s programs – Neighbours, The Simpsons, Australian Idol Use of competitions and premiums to promote foods Use of celebrities, cartoon characters and sports personalities Internet and other forms of promotion

13 Complaints processes Complaints directed to ACMA, broadcaster, Free TV or Advertising Standards Bureau depending on nature of complaint Requires some understanding of the regulatory processes and/or regulations Complainant needs to know date, time, program and station Can take some months to achieve outcome – TV ad already had its impact No real sanction for breaching regulation Consumers need a single contact point, simpler process and effective disincentives for breaches

14 Complaints McDonald's Happy Meal – Toy is an integral part of the product, not a premium Kellogg's Coco Pops – not aired during children's programming Chuppa Chup lollipops – not target directed to parents Shrek the Third – did not directly encourage children to ask parents to buy Shrek products

15 Industry responses

16 1. Marketing kids’ food to parents GSK Ribena The claim: The blackcurrants in Ribena contain 4 x vitamin C of oranges The reality: Ribena does not have 4 x more vitamin C than orange juice. Some products had less vitamin C than stated on the NIP. Kellogg’s Coco Pops The claim: Trusted children’s media personality tells us that Coco Pops are a good source of vitamins and minerals including calcium for healthy bones. The reality: Coco Pops are 33% sugar and a poor source of fibre. Ferrero Nutella Hazelnut Spread The claim: Low GI for long lasting energy – energy to live and learn The reality: biggest ingredient is sugar (54%), 30% total fat and 10% saturated, only 13% hazelnut. A serve of Nutella on a serve of white bread is medium GI.

17 2. “There are no bad foods, just bad diets” Jo Lively – “eat well, live well, play well” Nestle – “Good food, good life” Australian Beverage Council - “There are no bad foods, just bad diets”

18 3. Question the evidence  Bans on advertising to children in Norway, Sweden and Quebec have not lead to a decline in obesity levels BUT There are many factors that contribute to obesity so an advertising ban alone is not a silver bullet

19 4. Do something else that looks positive Sports sponsorship – Coca-Cola and McDonalds sponsor Little Athletics Labelling initiatives e.g. Kellogg’s %DI nutrition labelling, Coca-Cola %DI energy Funding National Nutrition Survey McDonalds ‘Salads Plus’ menu and nutrition information

20 5. Get out there before the regulator does Food and Beverage Advertising and Marketing Communications Code Beverage manufacturers removing soft drink from primary schools

21 Public Support

22 Companies can advertise unhealthy food and drinks during TV programs popular with children. 24% said governments should stop this completely 65% said governments should restrict these practices 10% said governments should not restrict these practices at all CHOICE Survey

23 More than half of parents supported a ban on advertising of unhealthy foods at times when children were watching. (Morley, 2007) 20,521 people signed the Cancer Council ‘Pull the Plug’ postcard campaign calling for the Children’s Televisions Standards to protect children from junk food advertising. Public Support

24 Is co-regulation protecting Aussie kids from junk food ads? Australian Association of National Advertisers say: 100% compliance over the last 10 years Enhances health and wellbeing of consumers by providing protection against advertising & marketing communications considered to promote unhealthy or unsafe practices. A reflection of prevailing community standards Expressly prohibits the exploitation of pester power which is allowable under existing law To date the ‘name and shame’ principle has been regarded as sufficient penalty

25 Is co-regulation protecting Aussie kids from junk food ads? CHOICE says: In theory, co-regulation could protect children from junk food marketing. In reality, government standards don’t go far enough and improvements to industry codes have failed to deliver any meaningful change. The current system does not adequately cover all forms of media and practices used to market foods to children. The complex complaints system does not encourage consumer participation. Existing sanctions do little to deter non-compliance.

26 For more information… …about our food marketing campaign visit or go to …about CHOICE campaigns visit Clare Hughes - Senior Food Policy Officer

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