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MARKETING | Staff Reporter, Australia
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The Medical Journal of Australia calls for government regulation of industry advertising

The Medical Journal of Australia has published the results of a study looking into the amount of advertising of unhealthy fast food advertising on free to air tv from QSR chains (Ch's 7, 9 + 10).

The study concludes "Children’s exposure to unhealthy fast-food advertising has not changed following the introduction of self-regulation, and some fast foods advertised for children’s consumption contain excessive energy. The limited impact of self-regulation suggests that governments should define the policy framework for regulating fast-food advertising to children". For the advance online publication, click here

We put the following questions to the authors of the study (the Prevention Research Collaboration, The University of Sydney and the Cancer Council, NSW)

QSR Media: The Medical Journal of Australia has called for government regulation of the industry, what exactly do you want the federal government to do?
Response: The research published in the Medical journal of Australia showed that since the Quick Service Restaurant Industry initiative was introduced, there has been no change in the frequency of advertisements for unhealthy fast-foods. The frequency of unhealthy fast-food ads also remained unchanged, and was more frequent, during times when the highest numbers of children were watching.

Clearer standards are needed to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink advertising on TV. The World Health Organization has recommended that governments take a lead role in setting such standards. Clearer standards are required for defining which foods or drinks are appropriate to advertise to children based on an independent nutrient profiling tool, such as that used in the UK, and for defining time periods when most children are watching TV.

By governments taking a lead role on this issue, this would also ensure that any restrictions applied to all fast-food companies, and not just some, as is currently the case.


QSR Media: Kate Carnell, CEO, AFGC has criticised the study, saying that self regulation in the industry has worked, as the content of advertising has changed, how do you respond to this?
Response: This study clearly showed that there has been no change in the frequency of unhealthy fast-food ads since the Quick Service Restaurant Industry initiative was introduced. The frequency of unhealthy fast-food ads also remained unchanged, and was more frequent, during times when the highest numbers of children were watching. If this was a responsible step by the fast-food industry, we would have expected to see the number of unhealthy fast-food ads decrease.

This research adds further to the body of evidence showing that self-regulation of food advertising to children, has not reduced children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink advertising on TV.

The World Health Organization has stated that restrictions on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children should be to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink advertising. It is the high volume, and repeated exposure, to advertising for unhealthy foods that negatively impact on what children are eating.
 

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