Obesity has become a national problem in Australia and leading health groups are campaigning for control on food advertising that lures children into indiscriminate eating.
A coalition of the health groups, the Obesity Policy Coalition, is bringing out what it terms to be an 'obesity blueprint', that requires the federal, state and territory governments governments to monitor and even ban junk food advertisements in children's television shows, movies, the internet and in public areas. It is backed by the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance, including the Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia, AMA and the National Heart foundation. It claims that it has significant support from people who have answered a survey on the problem.
The senior policy adviser of the coalition, Jane Martin states, "Nine out of 10 people thought that junk food marketing to children should be restricted on television, but there's high support in general for controls on some of the techniques used to target children, such as toys and competitions."
Food companies, selling junk and fast food, do not regulate their advertisements that actually de-motivate young people from eating healthily. When attractive visuals and texts bombard them in schools and sporting events, through movies, magazines, direct emails and text messages, it destroys healthy eating habits. Consequently, one-quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese.
Boyd Swinburn, the Centre for Obesity Prevention spokesman, regrets that in the middle of an 'obesity epidemic' children are being allowed to be tempted by junk food drives and sales. The Obesity Policy Coalition report has been sent to Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon whose office has stated that $325 million has been invested for the Healthy Children initiative to increase physical activity and improve nutrition in schools and pre-schools.
Although the Australian Food and Grocery Council has rejected the claims, pointing to its agreement with the industry code - the Responsible Children's Marketing Initiative, the curb that the coalition recommends is very definitely a necessity in Australia.