An analysis by NSW Cancer Council states that food companies are advertising products to children because they are classified as healthy by their own nutritional standards
It also found that 63 percent of food that appeared in television advertisements was considered unhealthy under Food Standards Australia New Zealand nutrient profiling. Fast foods including McDonald's Chicken N' Cheese burger and KFC's Mint Choc Krusher are also being advertised to children despite not being children's meals.
Interestingly, the companies that had not signed up to the voluntary code were more likely to promote healthy food than those that were signatories.
The findings have sparked calls for mandatory regulation in line with government standards. The Australian Communications Media Authority does not permit companies to advertise unhealthy food to children from 7am to 8.30am and 4pm to 8.30pm on Monday to Friday, or 7am to 8.30pm on weekends.
Study author Clare Hughes said this would be more effective in stopping high-sugar and fat foods being marketed to children rather than relying on food companies to comply with voluntary codes and self-regulation.
'The voluntary initiatives can be a bit of an advertising spin in themselves,' Ms Hughes said.
'Children are watching television at times when these initiatives don't apply.'
The NSW Cancer Council campaigns against junk food advertising to children because of the associated cancers linked with obesity, such as kidney, bowel, pancreas, post-menopausal breast, endometrial and esophegal cancer.
The analysis has been published in the industry journal Nutrition and Dietetics.
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