The line between entertainment and advertising to kids is increasingly blurred. The Australian consumer organisation CHOICE reviewed junk food marketing directed to kids and has found fast food companies using mobile phone apps and social media to push salty, fatty and sugary foods to children without even complying with the limited voluntary restrictions found in television advertising.
“The food and beverage industry’s argument is that responsible parents should educate their kids about eating unhealthy food in moderation as part of a balanced diet and lifestyle. But those same companies are undermining parents at every step by spending vast amounts on advertising and marketing unhealthy foods and drinks to influence children’s preferences.”, commented CHOICE.
CHOICE further argues that it is estimated that $56 billion a year are being spent on social and medical costs linked to obesity in Australia. In light of strong evidence that junk food ads are part of the obesity problem, the food industry has created voluntary codes to restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods directed primarily to children. However, independent surveys in Europe, Asia, North America and Australia have found self-regulation by the food and beverage industries has had little impact on the amount of advertising watched by kids in the last five years.