Junk Food Injunction

October 2010 Issue
Welcome to the Spring edition of Junk Food Injunction. Excitement has been building here for a number of weeks as we have been working on the launch of the new Junkbusters website. Also in this edition we look at kids’ sport and food company sponsorship and the review of the impact of food and drink advertising restrictions in the United Kingdom. This season’s recipe is Chick Pea and CousCous Salad, great as an accompaniment to spring lamb or as a workplace lunch for a healthy start to Spring and Summer.

To be added to the distribution list for Junk Food Injunction please contact:

Cancer Council NSW
Ph: (02) 9334 1467



Junkbusters – Helping People Bite Back Against Junk Food Marketing

Cancer Council NSW has recently launched Junkbusters – an online food marketing complaints navigator that is a one-stop-shop for information on Australian government regulations and industry self-regulation covering all forms of media.  Junkbusters has been developed to help concerned people take action against inappropriate food marketing practices targeting children.

The Junkbusters website acts as a collection point for public concern about food marketing to children, and a record of outcomes from formal complaint processes to regulators. The data collected will provide an independent indicator of the effectiveness of current regulations and identify if there’s an unmet need for national statutory regulation to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing. 

How can you help?
There are a number of ways that you or your organisation can support this initiative:

So check out junkbusters.com.au and say no to misleading food ads!


Food Marketing to Children: whose responsibility?

Recent responses to the website The Punch show there are diverse opinions on whether it is solely a parent’s responsibility to protect their children from the effects of marketing of unhealthy food or whether food companies and governments have a responsibility to provide a safer environment for children.

The diverse comments include:
“Sorry, but it’s not the job of the fast food joints to protect your child. That is your job as the parent. Maybe it’s not easy, but it’s your job and no one else’s”.

“The barrage of sophisticated advertising aimed at kids, peer pressure, less time with the kids (dual incomes to make ends meet) etc make it really tough for parents these days. So bring on advertising restrictions (like they have in the UK), better labelling and whatever else we can try.”

We would like to hear from you about what you think. Visit the Junkbusters website and leave a comment.


That’s Not Cricket: Junk Food Sponsorship of Peak Sporting Organisations

While it is well recognised that sport can provide an opportunity for children to be physically active, sports clubs can also provide an ideal setting to promote other health messages to large numbers of children, including messages relating to healthy eating. The promotion of healthy eating can occur in a number of ways, such as through sports canteens, the food and drinks that coaches provide to players, as well as sponsorship arrangements.

While most children engage in sport through community level sports clubs, the funding of peak sporting organisations may influence how community sport is arranged. For example, the sponsorship of peak sporting organisations may filter down to community sports clubs, while the association between these sponsors and representative sporting bodies may indicate the acceptability of these sponsors.

Researchers from Cancer Council NSW, in association with the Prevention Research Collaboration at Sydney University aimed to determine the extent of sponsorship arrangements at peak sporting organisations, by examining 55 peak organisations’ websites for the nine most popular sports for children in NSW.

Overall, 443 sponsors were identified across all websites: 9% of which were food and drink companies and 3% were alcohol manufacturers. According to independently developed criteria for healthy sponsors, the majority of food and drink companies (63%) and alcohol manufacturers (100%) were considered to be unhealthy.

Some websites had information available about sponsored sports development programs and competitions (n = 16 events). The majority of these sponsored events were associated with food and drink companies (69%), and one was associated with an alcohol manufacturer. Of those events sponsored by food and drink companies, almost three-quarters were associated with companies that do not meet established criteria for healthy sponsors.

A large number of these sponsored programs were associated with the fast food giant McDonald’s, including the McDonald’s Skill, Fun & Play and McDonald’s Hoop Time basketball programs, McDonald’s Kanga Cup soccer competition, McDonald’s State Track and Field Championships for athletics and McDonald’s Little Athletics Registration Program.  The Milo-in-2-Cricket program was also promoted on all cricket organisations’ websites. This program aims to develop cricket skills and performance of children aged 5 to 10 years.

Peak sporting organisations have an opportunity to act as role models to demonstrate appropriate sponsorship arrangements to their affiliated sports clubs. However, the current high levels of unhealthy food and drink sponsorship, particularly for children’s sports development programs and competitions, means that clubs are receiving inappropriate messages relating to healthy eating promotion. Government intervention is needed to reduce these organisations’ reliance on unhealthy food and beverage sponsorship.

Kelly B, Baur, LA, Bauman AE, King L, Chapman K, Smith BJ. Food and drink sponsorship of children’s sport: who pays? Health Promotion International 2010.

Bridget Kelly

What’s Changed? Television Food Advertising to Children in the UK

In 2006, the United Kingdom (UK) introduced government restrictions banning all television advertising for foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) during ‘children’s airtime’. HFSS products were defined using a nutrient profiling tool developed by researchers from the British Heart Foundation for the Food Standards Authority (FSA). Only those products not classified as HFSS using this nutrient profiling tool were allowed to be advertised during ‘children’s airtime’. The final stage of this restriction was introduced in January 2009 when the ban was applied to subscription television channels.

The UK government agency responsible for introducing this ban, the Office of Communications, have now released their final review of the impact of these advertising restrictions. This review compared the number of television advertisements for HFSS foods and drinks in 2005 and 2009, and changes in children’s exposure to HFSS advertisements.

In 2009, no HFSS advertisements were broadcast during ‘children’s airtime’, illustrating advertisers’ compliance with this statutory policy. However, the overall numbers of HFSS advertising spots substantially increased from 1.7 million in 2005 to 3.2 million in 2009. This was due to an increase in advertisements for HFSS products during broadcast periods classified as ‘adult airtime’, and an increase in the number of commercial digital television channels that became available to households during this period.

Overall, children’s exposure to HFSS advertisements was 37% lower in 2009 than in 2005. Children’s exposure was calculated as the number of HFSS advertisements multiplied by the number of children watching television when the advertisements were shown. The overall reduction in exposure was due to both the absence of HFSS advertisements during children’s airtime, and a reduction in the number of 4 to 9 year olds watching during adult airtime. Conversely, adult-airtime accounted for a 12.6% greater proportion of 10-15 year old’s viewing time in 2009, which means these children were exposed to 100 million more HFSS advertisements in 2009. The review also found that children also saw less advertising that used promotions and licensed characters or company owned characters (such as Ronald McDonald or Coco the Monkey) in 2009.

This is an example of how government intervention can reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising from television. The review also highlights the importance of applying restrictions at times when most children are watching television, rather than time periods specifically classified by industry as ‘children’s airtime’. Given the negative impact of unhealthy food advertising on children’s diets, the regulatory system and review process adopted in the UK should be considered by the Australian government to protect the interests of Australian children.

Arambepola C, Scarborough P, Rayner M. Validating a nutrient profile model. Public Health Nutr. 2007;11(4):371-378.

Office of communications (Ofcom). HFSS advertising restrictions: Final Review. July 2010. http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/tv-research/hfss-final-review/.

Lana Hebden and Lesley King


World Health Organisation Global Recommendations on Marketing to Children

In recognition that food marketing to children is a global issue, the 63rd World Health Assembly held in Geneva in May endorsed a set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. The recommendations guide the 193 member states in designing new or strengthening existing policies in order to reduce the impact of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans fatty acids, sugar or salt to children.

The recommendations advise that the exposure of children to advertisements, the power of marketing and the techniques used in advertising all need to be considered when developing a policy. Special mention was made that settings where children gather, such as schools, pre-schools and sporting and cultural activities held in these centres, should be free from marketing of energy dense nutrient poor foods.

The comprehensive recommendations call on governments to provide leadership and be key stakeholders in the development of policies to reduce the impact of food marketing on children. They also note that policies require enforcement mechanisms and monitoring systems to ensure that objectives are met.

To read the full recommendations visit http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/marketing-food-to-children/en/index.html

Spring Recipe


8 minutes preparation + 6 minutes cooking
16 serves of vegies in this recipe

1½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 teaspoons ground cumin or curry powder
1½ cups couscous, uncooked
425g can chickpeas, drained
3 medium tomatoes, finely diced
¼ cup parsley, chopped
2 spring onions, sliced (include green tops)
Rind of 1 lemon or orange, grated
Juice of 2 oranges (150 mL)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Bring stock to the boil and add cumin. Remove from heat and mix in couscous.
Cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes until stock is absorbed. Mix in remaining ingredients. Serve warm or cold.
Serves 8.

Substitute tomatoes with 1 red capsicum. Replace spring onions with ½ cup finely chopped red onion.