Parents unite against pester power

By June Shannon Policy News   |   13th Aug 2018

Join the Irish Heart Foundation’s campaign to tackle child obesity

As a busy mum of two boys aged six and eight, Susan Jane White knows all about pester power and the impact it can have on her family. She believes that the advertising and marketing of junk food to children is unacceptable and harmful to her children.

That is why Susan and her husband Trevor, pictured above, have joined the Irish Heart Foundation’s Parents Jury; a group of concerned parents who are supporting the Irish Heart Foundation’s innovative Stop Targeting Kids campaign. The campaign aims to enlist public support to force action restricting relentless junk food marketing directed at children.

“My children are engaged every day in pester power. I am very aware of the influence of junk food marketing has and not only is it distasteful it is harmful to my boys. They didn’t know sugary cereals existed because we don’t buy them and now suddenly everyday they are pestering me for them” said Susan Jane.

Children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure and earlier this year it was revealed that more than a third of children presenting to a specialist weight management service at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin already had risk factors for heart disease.

“My children are engaged every day in pester power. I am very aware of the influence of junk food marketing has and not only is it distasteful it is harmful to my boys,"

Susan-Jane White

Susan Jane’s husband Trevor said he was lending his voice to the Parents’ Jury because he was hugely concerned about child obesity in Ireland and is shocked at how much influence and access junk food brands have.

“One in four primary school children in this country is now overweight or obese. This is a public health crisis. In 30 years’ time we will look back at this moment in our history with a degree of huge embarrassment and shame that we ever exposed our children to advertising for products that make them sick” he said.

Helena O Donnell, Project Manager for the Irish Heart Foundation’s Stop Targeting Kids campaign explained that the causal link between junk food marketing and child obesity has been conclusively proved. This resulted in regulation of broadcast advertising to children five years ago however that prompted an explosion in unregulated digital marketing that’s more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging.

"In 30 years’ time we will look back at this moment in our history with a degree of huge embarrassment and shame,"

Trevor White

“As a result, junk brands have achieved a wholly inappropriate proximity to children – pestering them relentlessly in school, at home, even in their bedrooms through their smart phones. It’s called the ‘brand in the hand’ and gives marketers constant access to children.

“There should be no junk food marketing to children at all but what we are specifically calling for, as part of our Stop Targeting Kids campaign, is for the government to put mandatory restrictions and penalties on junk food companies who market to kids online and on broadcast media. The State’s response to date has been feeble, putting its faith in a voluntary code with an industry whose major players have shown consistently they’ll do as little as they can get away with. We want to empower parents to challenge the narrative that they are the ones at fault.”

"Junk brands have achieved a wholly inappropriate proximity to children – pestering them relentlessly in school, at home, even in their bedrooms through their smart phones,"

Helena O Donnell, Project Manager, Stop Targeting Kids campaign, Irish Heart Foundation

Susan Jane said she would encourage other parents to get behind the Irish Heart Foundation’s Stop Targeting Kids campaign by signing the petition and getting involved in the Parents’ Jury.

“It seems wrong that we live in a society that colludes with advertisers and marketers who are peddling liquid candy that will make our children ill,” she said.

“I think every parent needs to know about this campaign and I would be very hopeful that they would sign the petition.”

The Irish Heart Foundation’s Parents’ Jury aims to help mobilise parents’ voices to be heard as part of the Stop Targeting Kids Campaign, initially speaking out on the nature of junk food marketing to children, with further opportunities to support Irish Heart Foundation’s work tackling child obesity.

If you would like to get involved in the Parents’ Jury, please email Helena at hodonnell@irishheart.ie

 

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childhood obesity junk food marketing parents jury stop targeting kids

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