Kit Kat, Coco Pops and Smarties have been classified as healthy which has lead to the questioning of regulations that govern the marketing of food for children.
According to an analysis by the New South Wales Cancer Council, 63 per cent of foods shown in advertisements have been classified as unhealthy by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
Products that have been given the 'unhealthy' chit still continue to be advertised by food companies despite signing an industry-regulated marketing code. The research has shown that those companies that have opted not to sign the code have actually been promoting healthy food than the ones who had signed.
Advertisements that were shown between 6 am and 9 pm in a span of two weeks was analysed by the researchers. On certain timings, unhealthy products for children are prohibited from being marketed. The timings are 7 am to 8.30 am and 4 pm to 8.30 pm on weekdays and 7 am to 8.30 pm on weekends.
Food companies also take part in the marketing initiative by Responsible Children, through which they decide their nutritional value as well as if it is suitable to be marketed for the kids.
A massive thirty-nine per cent of the advertisements have failed to meet the government's criteria. Clares Hughes, author of the research, has said that the most effective means of reducing such marketing is mandatory regulations involving government standards.
The spokesman for Australian Food and Crocery Council explained that despite restricting marketing of foods abroad, there has been no change in the rate of childhood obesity. He added that between 6 am and 9 am, all shows involve crime, sex and violence which are not meant for children and that timing cannot be used to determine when a child might watch TV.
Terry O'Brien, the managing director of Simplot, said that they have been following the Health Star food rating system which have been giving products with salt better ratings than the same ones without salt. He commented that the system is flawed and doesn't help the consumer in any way.
The NSW Cancer Council has been against advertising junk food to children as it is linked with obesity and kidney, bowel, pancreas, post-menopausal breast, endometrial and esophageal cancers.