Health experts call for crack down on kid-targeted junk food advertising

Published: 07 November 2016 Image credit: Photo: Stock photo

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The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has slammed the federal government for failing to properly address the nation’s obesity ‘epidemic,’ and has called for increased regulation on unhealthy food.

The AMA reiterated calls for a tax on sugar, improved nutritional education and a crack down on junk food advertising targeted at children.

“The AMA recommends that the initial focus of a national obesity should be on children and adolescents, with prevention and early intervention starting with the pregnant mother and the fetus, and continuing through infancy and childhood,” a statement read.

“Governments at all levels must employ their full range of policy, regulatory, and financial instruments to modify the behaviours and social practices that promote and sustain obesity.”

One in four Australian children and overweight or obese, and two out of three Australian adults are overweight or obese, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics.

The AMA’s release comes as the World Health Organisation released a report slamming governments around the world for failing to update regulations on junk food advertising in the digital age.

The report suggested junk food marketers were collecting children’s data through their online activities – such as age, interests and location – to target them with advertisements.

It said parents were often unaware of the sheer amount of junk food advertisements directed towards their children, especially in the digital arena.

The report also attacks how fast food restaurants utilise augmented reality games like Pokemon Go to encourage young players to walk through their doors.

McDonalds and Niantic, the creators of Pokemon Go, announced a partnership back in July this year.

The WHO recommends governments around the world to introduce restrictions, bans and penalties for the advertising of unhealthy food to children under 16.

It also recommends extending ‘offline’ regulations already in place for ‘old’ media to the online realm.