As worldwide trends in childhood obesity continue to cause concern and debate, the Federal Opposition has announced its support for a ban on junk food advertising during children’s programs. The AFA believes that banning advertising is not an appropriate response to the issue and that any solution will require an effort from the whole community. This will include greater parental responsibility, new healthy school canteen policies, increasing the amount of sport and exercise etc.
Working with the AANA and key media bodies, the AFA is actively playing a role to help address the issue. Over the past twelve months, the industry has:
– Instituted a new Code of Ethics for Advertising to Children- Represented the industry’s position at three Obesity Summits and contributed to strategies involving a whole of community approach to the issue of childhood obesity.
As part of the industry response, the AFA facilitated the development of a Healthy Lifestyle Campaign through member agencies, to promote better eating habits and exercise and this is being considered by the Government as part of a wide-ranging national strategy on obesity.
The AFA also facilitated discussion groups for members involved in food marketing and the issue of advertising to children continues to be a focus of the AFA Ethics Workshops. In addition, individual agencies are working with their clients to incorporate strategies to promote a better understanding of the fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle into their marketing. Many marketers allocate a significant part of their budgets to educate kids about health and nutrition.
Compared with other countries, Australia already has one of the most regulated marketing environments. There is no advertising at all in pre-school television programs and there are restrictions on the number of ads that can be shown in children’s viewing times. Australia also has very prescriptive food labelling laws.
There is no evidence in overseas experience to demonstrate the ad bans work in stemming the increase in childhood obesity. Over the long term, bans will do nothing to change behaviour or to improve our children’s knowledge of health and nutrition. An effective long-term solution is what Australians are looking for, not a knee-jerk reaction with no promise of success. In the meantime, the ban on junk food advertising during children’s programs has been extended to all social media. The strict regulations now prohibit the unhealthy food advertising to children as this might help to fight the ominous childhood obesity. The ban involves all drinks and foods that are high in sugar, salt or fat and this is targeted at all media, including television, cinema and print.
It is crucial that this ban goes online because that way, more parents will be able to see it and know about it. Children’s obesity is a very big problem in the world and there must be a way how we can inform more people about it using all available channels.
Going online with this problem is simply essential if we want to change anything. This can only be done with strict regulations that completely prohibit any unhealthy food advertising to children, anywhere, anytime. This means that these regulations will strictly prohibit any promotion of such a product in children’s media. Any media where the audience is more than 25% children will be restricted from such advertising. This includes all sorts of online platforms that include video sharing. Anything that even likely appeals to children will have to include this prohibition.
The constantly evolving advertising techniques, as well as the use of media among young people, made a significant change in children’s relationship with media and it is possible to use this change to help them and protect their well-being.
This is can be done with by implementing a major reduction when it comes to ads for drinks and foods high in sugar, salts and fats that children see. They need to understand that these foods and drinks are very bad for them and comprehend how negatively it can reflect on their health and lives.
Since we live in a modern world where everything revolves around technology and the Internet, we can do this easily. Just like companies use social media and the Internet to advertise their products, we can use the same weapons against them. That is why the ban on these harmful ads was extended online and to all types of video platforms and social media. If the targeted audience makes up to 25% children, such ads will be banned from broadcasting, as simple as that. In order to protect the children from a horrid disease of obesity that impacts every part of our blue planet, we have to use all our resources to help our children realize how junk food and drinks with added sugars can be harmful to their health and give them a chance for a better life.