A ban on junk food advertising? How is that going to work then?


Pies at New World Warkworth

Health groups are calling for a ban on junk food advertising and sports sponsorship in a bid to mimic the success of the ban on tobacco ads.

Several groups have made the call in submissions to the Advertising Standards Authority, which is reviewing its code for advertising to children.

Health groups said although big sports events such as rugby or league games might not be solely targeted at children, they were family affairs and children would be influenced by marketing.

They said such selling was one of the many ways children were bombarded by junk food messages.

Medical Association chair Stephen Child said even though such marketing is now common, sport would survive without it.

He said it was hard to believe a major cricket event was once sponsored by a cigarette company.

“Now, no one would think about tobacco companies sponsoring sporting events, it’s just become unheard of.

“The world hasn’t fallen apart; we still have cricket games, we still have sponsorship, but we’ve sent a message to our society that tobacco is evil … that causes harm.”

Dr Child said it was time to make the same shift with junk food.

The Food and Grocery Council, which represents many food companies, said in its submission there was no need for restrictions on company sponsorship, which it said was a mainstay of community projects and activities.

This initiative will fail on a number of fronts.

Take Subway. ?You can go there and get yourself a fat and sugar-laden meal. But you can also go there and get a sandwich that most health professional?would deem “healthy”.

So what do you do? Do you stop Subway from sponsoring or advertising in and around sports?

The other end of the problem is a supermarket. The supermarket itself is full of food that will make health professionals’?toes curl at the sheer death-inducing fattiness or sugariness of it all. Should Pak ‘n Save be banned from sponsoring trolley derbies, or the local under-16 girls’ hockey team?

Those are just two example of why a sponsorship ban on “junk food” sounds OK in principle, but is, in fact, impossible to implement.