Restricting Ads To Kids First Step In Reducing Rising Obesity Levels
New rules to control the content and amount of food advertising on television, especially during children's television
programmes, are needed to target the rising levels of obesity in New Zealand, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said today.
This would be much easier and probably more effective than a new tax on high sugar, high fat food as is being proposed
by the Agencies for Nutrition Action, in response to their concern that more than 1000 New Zealanders die each year from
"If we want to encourage children to eat healthy diets, we need to control the amount of advertising of unhealthy,
low-nutrient junk foods on New Zealand television, Ms Kedgley said.
"We need to restrict advertising of high fat, high sugar foods during children's usual viewing hours or, as a bare
minimum, permit advertising for foods of low nutritional value only in exchange for free broadcasting of nutrition
promotion messages and for foods which meet New Zealand's nutritional guidelines.
"Alternatively, we could follow the lead of countries like Sweden and Norway which do not allow any advertisements
during children's television programmes."
Ms Kedgley said international research shows that children's food choices are strongly influenced by what they see on
television. "Research also shows that continual advertising of high fat, sugar and low fibre foods during the usual
hours of children's viewing reinforces patterns of poor nutrition among children and adolescents that may continue into
A 1999 report on food advertisements shown during peak children's viewing time in New Zealand found that 63 per cent
were for unhealthy, highly processed, high fat, high sugar foods that increased children's risk of obesity, dental
cavities, diabetes and other diseases and 14 per cent of these ads were for fast foods.
It found that if children ate the foods promoted during children's television viewing hours, they would increase their
risk of obesity and dental cavities in childhood, and cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancers in adulthood.
"New Zealand children watch more than two hours of television every day, and a large proportion of the more than 20
minutes advertisements they will see during this time are for low-nutrient junk foods. This means our children are being
constantly exposed to a food universe on television which consists of snacks, sweets, soft drinks and fast food. The
message they will get from watching these advertisements is that these low-nutrient junk foods are good for them," said
"Clearly, if we want to encourage our children to eat healthy diets, some controls will have to be imposed."