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Parents want junk food ads banned


John Stapleton

The Australian

May 19, 2008

THE vast majority of parents support a ban on advertising junk food to children, particularly on television, according to a new survey.

Consumer group Choice released research yesterday showing parents believed the advertising was undermining their efforts to teach children good eating habits.

The ban is supported by the community group The Parents Jury, which has waged a long campaign on the issue.

Responding to a Newspoll survey, 88 per cent of parents said the advertising and marketing of junk food made their role more difficult.

The findings coincided with Choice's release of an illustrated storybook called Fed Up: A Tale of Junk Food Marketing. The publication, utilising the Newspoll research, documents the "pester power" of children. The Newspoll survey also found 82 per cent of parents had experienced their child asking for food or drink because they had seen it advertised.

The results are to be presented at a World Health Assembly conference in Geneva this week by Choice chief executive Peter Kell.

"Parents are in favour of increased government regulation over the way high sugar and fat foods are marketed to children," he said. "It's time for governments to act."

Penny Beitzel, 39, who was at a children's birthday party in Sydney's Centennial Park with her daughters Alicia, 5 and Abby, 7, yesterday backed the findings. Ms Beitzel said parents were sick of having to fight propaganda from a cashed-up international junk food industry.

Many parents, including herself, were tightly controlling their children's access to television shows because of the advertising.

"This is not about promoting a nanny state," she said. "Banning junk food advertising is about helping parents by not actively working against what they are trying to do and not undermining the healthy messages they are trying to give their kids."

Ms Beitzel said the pernicious advertising of junk food did nothing for the health of their children, while overworked parents needed strength and energy to combat the pestering created by it.

"The most powerful images we retain in our lives are the ones we get as children. Parents should be taking advantage of this, because the junk food industry certainly is," she said.

Justine Hodge, a spokeswoman for The Parents Jury, said the group "absolutely" supported the call for a ban on junk food advertising to children.

"Our membership has repeatedly told us this is their number one concern," she said. "The continual, repetitive advertising of these unhealthy foods is making it very difficult for families to make healthy food choices.

"It is very detrimental and very unfair."


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