Australian Study Shows Self-Regulation is Working

CANBERRA – Advertisements of high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods have fallen to nearly zero among all food and beverage advertisements on children’s television in Australia, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

Data from an independent study conducted as part of the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) – which has been in effect since 2009 and now has 17 signatory companies – showed that only 0.7 percent of all HFSS food and beverage advertisements shown on children’s TV from March – May 2011 targeted children under the age of 12. The figure represented a 60 percent decrease from the year before, according to Commercial Monitors, an Australian advertising information provider.

The data analysis – in the RCMI Activity Report 2011 – covered free-to-air television (including digital TV) from five major capital cities Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney over a 24-hour period over 92 days.

AFGC Acting Chief Executive Dr Geoffrey Annison said the compelling statistics showed a major improvement for industry as well as highlighted the ongoing success of industry’s Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI), which has been running since 2009.

Under the RCMI, 17 leading food manufacturers have committed not to advertise to children under 12, unless they promoted nutritious dietary choices and a healthy lifestyle.

“The latest advertising figures confirm that adverts are not running during TV programs aimed at children,” Dr Annison said.

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.

“Notwithstanding this, AFGC and its members are always looking to improve the way codes operate and their effectiveness,” Dr Annison said.

“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.”

Read the RCMI Activity Report 2011 here