Advertising industry accused of ignoring health concerns

  • 17/02/2017
French fries junk food
Researchers say the Advertising Standards Authority's new code doesn't go far enough (File)

Government regulation is needed to reduce the advertising industry's marketing of unhealthy food to children and young people, according to an Auckland University study.

Researchers evaluated the Advertising Standards Authority's proposed new code against eight criteria contained in a submission by more than 70 health professors to the ASA's review last year.

Professor Boyd Swinburn says the study, published in the NZ Medical Journal, shows the industry has largely ignored the submission.

"The evaluation found that the proposed code largely represents no change or uncertain change from the existing codes," he said.

"It cannot be expected to provide substantial protection for children and young people from the marketing of unhealthy foods."

Prof Swinburn said there was no indication that independent monitoring would be implemented to assess the code's effects.

"Government regulations will be needed to achieve this important outcome," he said.

"Reducing the exposure of children and young people to the marketing of unhealthy foods is a core strategy for reducing the high overweight and obesity prevalence in this population."

Prof Swinburn said the proposed code appeared to be a small step in the right direction, but did not provide adequate protection of children and young people's interests.

He said it reflected problems endemic to self-regulation where commercial interests conflicted with public interests and it fell far below international best practice.