28 Apr 2016

Call to ban junk food ads within 300m of schools

9:37 pm on 28 April 2016

A charity is calling for a ban on junk food advertising within 300 metres of schools - including on dairies.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The Morgan Foundation, started by Gareth Morgan and his family, has made the call in a submission to the Advertising Standards Authority, which is reviewing its code for advertising to children.

Many other submitters are also worried about children being targeted in or around their school environment.

A study released on Wednesday showed schools were surrounded by take-away and convenience stores.

Many of them were decked out in the colours and logos of ice-cream or soft drink brands.

Morgan Foundation general manager Geoff Simmons said that sort of branding should not be near primary schools, nor should billboards advertising junk food.

It was time for the advertising code to be broadened to reflect the way children are bombarded with marketing from many sources, he said.

"In the past we have tended to take a very narrow view of what constitutes junk food marketing to children.

"When we look at the sort of marketing that children actually see it is much broader than the narrow definition of advertising."

The Morgan Foundation is one of many who have made submissions to the Advertising Standards Authority calling for tougher restrictions.

New Zealand Medical Association is also concerned about marketing connected to schools.

Its chair, Stephen Child, said marketing was a big part of the obesity problem and changes needed to be made to protect children.

Children are vulnerable and can't make the same informed choices as adults, he said.

"You know critics will argue 'what about 301 metres away from the school' or 'what about the advertising they've already received on television and in magazines and so on that they are exposed to', and I understand those arguments.

"But what I think the Morgan Foundation is suggesting is that we at least move in a positive direction towards what we are trying to achieve."

Association of Dairies, Groceries and Small Businesses chairperson Neil Patel said it was not fair dairies were once again being made the scapegoat for the obesity crisis.

Dairy owners were concerned about the problem, but there were much more effective solutions, like education, he said.

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