Australian report reveals success of industry initiative in limiting food ads targeting children
According to the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) 2011 Monitoring Report released on 8 March, advertisements for foods high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods on children’s television in Australia have fallen to 1.6% of all food and beverage advertisements - a 1.4% decrease compared with last year.
This is the result of an independent study commissioned by the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) which monitored HFSS food and beverage adverts targeted at children under 12 years old on children’s TV between the 6 and 19 March 2011. The data analysis covered 8 channels of free-to-air television (including digital TV) from five major capital cities Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
All programmes classified as P (preschool) and C (children) as well as programmes where the audience was predominantly children (greater than 50% of the audience was children aged less than 12 years) or which were directed to children under 12 years old (assessed through the themes, visuals and language) were considered as children’s programmes.
The analysis found that:
· Advertisements for non-core foods (HFSS) screened during children’s programs represented 1.7% of all food and beverage advertisements broadcast on the 8 channels0.
· The proportion of advertisements screened in children’s programs also decreased of 4.6% despite a 100% increase in the total number of food and beverage advertisements broadcast.
· Of the non-core foods shown in children’s programs, 62% were from the quick service restaurant (QSR) industry.
· Advertisements from the QSR industry were the most prevalent in children’s programs; however, the majority of these were for ‘better for you’ products such as McDonald’s Happy Meals, that meet the criteria specified in the QSR initiative but not those used in the monitoring report.
· The next largest group was oven-baked potato chips with 17%.
AFGC Acting Chief Executive Dr Geoffrey Annison said the compelling statistics showed a major improvement process for industry as well as highlighted the ongoing success of industry’s Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI), launched in 2009.
The Australian food and beverage industry launched two self-regulatory initiatives that aim to reduce children’s exposure to advertisements for food and beverages high in fat, sugar and salt (noncore foods). The AFGC Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI), to which 17 companies have signed up, covers products sold in retail outlets*.
Dr Annison said the figures underscore the value of industry codes in moderating the way food manufacturers promote their products, consistent with similar experiences internationally.
“Industry looks forward to continuing discussions with Government and public health advocates to ensure the RCMI is aligned with community expectations, remains practical for industry to implement and is successful in supporting better diets and health outcomes for all Australians,” he added.
*The Australian Quick Service Restaurant Industry Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children (QSR initiative) covers foods sold in quick service restaurants.
Source: Advertising Education Forum (AEF)