Australian Medical Association President, Dr Bill Glasson, said today that Kraft Asia Pacific has missed a golden opportunity to show leadership in the battle against the epidemic of childhood obesity by not following its US counterpart and modifying advertising of its products to children under the age of 12.
Dr Glasson said all food advertising should be banned on television between 4.00pm and 7.00pm, and during other peak viewing times aimed at children under the age of 12.
Kraft in the United States said in a media release last week that it "will continue its existing policy of not advertising on television, radio and print media with a primary audience under age six. In addition the company will begin to change the mix of products it advertises on television, radio and print media seen principally by children aged six to eleven".
The Sydney Morning Herald today reported comments from a spokesman for Kraft Asia Pacific – "It was a 'fair assessment' that Kraft was responding to international evidence of a link between junk food advertising and childhood obesity. However Kraft has no plans to introduce the policy in Australia".
Dr Glasson said it's disappointing that Kraft Asia Pacific has failed to show the way for other companies.
"Many multinational companies are enjoying a healthy bottom line at the expense of the health of young Australians," Dr Glasson said.
"Our kids are getting fatter. They're eating more calories and doing less exercise than ever before.
"One in four children and adolescents is overweight or obese and we know that overweight children are likely to become overweight adults.
"The costs to Governments and the community of treating the complications of chronic diseases brought on by childhood obesity are enormous.
"If food companies will not take responsibility for modifying their behaviour, then the Federal Government must step in.
"The Government must ban food advertising during children's peak viewing time on weekends and during the week, acknowledging that many kids under 12 are watching TV up to 7.00pm.
"The guidelines currently limit advertising between 4.00 and 5.00pm, leaving many children exposed to the negative impact of junk food advertising after that time," Dr Glasson said.