Heart Foundation commends ASA for strengthening advertising codes for children

While the ASA panel reviewed a range of recommendations, the Heart Foundation believes more proposals could have been adopted to effectively reduce the advertising of unhealthy food and drinks to children.

“Any country that is serious about addressing childhood obesity, especially to the level we have here in New Zealand, needs to place advertising to children at the top of its agenda,” says Dave Monro, Food and Nutrition Manager at the Heart Foundation.

“We welcome the review and any tightening of the code, but it needs to go further to helping reduce the negative influence of powerful marketing and sponsorship,” he says.

The Heart Foundation was hoping the United Nation’s definition of a child as being under 18 would be adopted.

“Creating healthy education environments is a key focus for the Heart Foundation, so we are disappointed to see the new code still allowing unhealthy food brands to be advertised in high schools and carried on sports gear.

“All environments where children gather should be free from the marketing of unhealthy products,” says Monro.

While he agrees with the increased sponsorship restrictions under the new code, he says this only applies to the depiction of products and not brands.

“This means high profile sports players, teams and events can still be sponsored by brands that are mostly associated with unhealthy foods and drinks,” says Monro.

“Given Kiwi children are the third fattest in the OECD, we would encourage our leading sports teams and sporting role models to consider the products and brands they are promoting to their young fans,” he says.

“While it is commendable that some changes have been made, it is important that all of this is effectively monitored and evaluated. This is crucial to determine what impact the improvements are making to the exposure of unhealthy food advertising to children.”