Junk food ads targeting kids more frequently: study

June 24th, 2008 - 2:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 24 (IANS) Ads extolling junk food are directly targeting children and are seldom regulated, according to a new study. “One out of 10 (Australian) parents regularly take their children straight from school to a fast food place,” said Vishesh Oommen of Queensland University of Technology’s Institute, who conducted the study.

Oommen pointed out that ads targeting children were based around “pester power”, meaning the item would look so tempting to a child that he or she pestered their parents until they gave in.

“This means it (Australia) has one of the poorest standards of food advertising, there is pretty much no limit to the type of food which is being advertised,” said Oommen.

“TV advertising has a big influence, and children now watch more TV than in previous years… if a child is sitting through more than an hour of TV, then he or she is seeing a lot of advertisements, which influences a child’s perception.

Oommen said that if the level of junk food advertising did not change, rates of obesity among children would not go down. Currently, one in four Australian children are overweight.

The study found that Sweden and Norway have the strictest policies on food advertising, while UK had recently introduced heavier restrictions. Canada and New Zealand were the other countries included in the study.

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