Junk food marketing complaints just tip of the iceberg

By June Shannon Policy News   |   26th Nov 2019

Six junk food marketing complaints featured in today’s ASAI bulletin are just the tip of the iceberg of irresponsible marketing influencing children’s eating habits

The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland’s (ASAI) has released its latest Complaints Bulletin, which contains 26 case reports on complaints recently investigated by the organisation.

Of the 26 complaints published today (Tuesday 26 November 2019) in the ASAI bulletin (26 November 2019/ Release No.5), almost a quarter represent junk food marketing that illustrate irresponsible marketing during a childhood obesity crisis, the Irish Heart Foundation has said.

The junk food marketing complaints against Apache Pizza, Offbeat Donuts, Nutella and Mooju Milk, contained in the ASAI report, point out online posts that disregard the ASAI’s recommended boundaries for marketing communications to be responsible to consumers and society.

The Irish Heart Foundation submitted complaints to ASAI showing how the online posts were breaking the ASAI’s own advertising standards by making fun of healthy diets, using promotions to engage young people and encouraging children to overconsume junk food during the Christmas period with marketing that referred to Santa Lists and the Late Late Toy Show.

According to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is leading a campaign to prevent junk food marketing to children, the six complaints by different brands are not extraordinary and reflect a wider problem of junk food marketing available for viewing by children.

" This irresponsible marketing is happening in the middle of a child obesity crisis, where children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure ,"

Helena O Donnell, Advocacy Campaigns Officer , Irish Heart Foundation

Helena O’Donnell, Advocacy Campaigns Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “When you see the marketing that is happening online it reflects industry’s inability to self-regulate and highlights the ineffectiveness of the current rules on junk food marketing. This irresponsible marketing is happening in the middle of a child obesity crisis, where children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure and young people are showing early signs of heart disease once only seen in middle-aged men.”

“The causal link between unhealthy food marketing and childhood obesity has been conclusively proved resulting in regulation of broadcast advertising to children five years ago. This prompted an explosion in unregulated digital marketing that’s more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging. We know junk food marketing is fueling obesity, obesity is damaging children and the State is failing to protect children’s health. We must introduce a ban on junk food marketing to children on digital and broadcast channels,” she added.

The Irish Heart Foundation is campaigning for regulations to prevent junk food marketing directed at children. Its Stop Targeting Kids campaign is seeking public support through an online petition that calls for action by the Government to regulate digital marketing aimed at Irish children and to close loopholes in broadcast restrictions which mean that children still see over 1,000 junk food and drinks ads on television every year.

The call for a ban on junk food marketing to children is one of a number of recommendations in the Irish Heart Foundation’s Childhood Obesity Manifesto, launched in November 2019.

The manifesto seeks to introduce a number of government measures to reduce childhood obesity by 50 per cent by 2030 including, making solving the crisis a national priority across government departments, regulating junk food marketers access to young people, listening to young people who ask for clearer more honest packaging and labels, reducing the cost of healthier food options through subsidies and investing in a built environment that helps young people become more active.

For more information on our childhood obesity manifesto please see here

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advertising childhood obesity childhood obesity manifesto junk food junk food marketing online advertising stop targeting kids

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