Weak advertising codes ‘fail children’

NZ Herald Apr 29, 2010
Food advertisers’ self regulation of their ads to children fails even their own weak standards and encourages kids to consume junk food, a new study claims. The study by researchers at Otago University’s Wellington campus says the failure to implement parts of the codes on advertising, and “unjustified and inconsistent” decisions on complaints are a breach of United Nations requirements designed to protect children. The researchers have called for the Government to introduce tougher controls. They cite a 2007 survey in which 82 per cent of parents and grandparents said they wanted a ban on advertising of unhealthy food to children.

A third of children are overweight or obese. Advertising is overseen by the Advertising Standards Authority with complaints handled by the Advertising Standards Complaints Board. The study by public health researcher Louise Thornley and colleagues says the board fails to acknowledge the targeting of children by advertisers to pester their parents for unhealthy food as a valid ground for complaints. The researchers also found “substantial screening out of advertising complaints by the chair of the board before they can be considered”.