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Kids Are Seeing More Junk Food Ads on TV, Despite Industry Promises

Kids Are Seeing More Junk Food Ads on TV, Despite Industry Promises

Since 2010, the number of junk food ads has risen 10 percent for young children and 29 percent for teens

Despite pledges from several major industry leaders, children are still being strongly targeted in junk food ads.

Despite pledges from junk food companies to cut down on advertising, children are seeing more targeted snack food ads than they have in recent years, research from the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity has found.

The marketing efforts contradict a 2006 campaign introduced by the Council of Better Business Bureaus called the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, aimed at allowing food companies to self-regulate their advertising. Companies that signed up for the initiative — including brands like Burger King, General Mills, Kraft Heinz, McDonald’s, Mondelez, and Nestlé USA — have pledged to advertise only healthy products to children.

In spite of this, researchers found that the number of snack food ads targeted to preschoolers rose 18 percent between 2010 and 2014, while ads for young children increased 10 percent. Teenagers between 12 and 17 years of age saw a 29 percent increase in snack advertisements, thanks to platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

What’s more, minority kids were exposed to more junk food advertising than their white peers — a direct result of companies spending more money on minority-targeted media campaigns. Black children, for instance, saw 64 percent more snack food ads on television than white children.

“It's hard to translate the number of advertisements to actual consumption, but if you just look at the imbalance (between healthy and unhealthy snacks) it would suggest that advertising is probably not increasing children's fruit and nut consumption,” said Jennifer L. Harris, director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


Department of Health’s junk advertising Code of Practice is unenforced – and Irish children will pay with their health

THOUSANDS of Irish kids are likely to die prematurely of overweight and obesity - with experts blaming Government inaction for putting them in harm’s way.

It’s now almost one year since the Department of Health launched its voluntary Code of Practice for the advertising and marketing of junk food.

Launched on February 14 last year, the purpose of the code was to ensure that kids couldn’t be targeted with adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

However, the Irish Heart Foundation says that the code’s weak guidelines remain entirely unenforced and are failing to putting Irish youngsters at greater risk of chronic disease, long-term ill health and ultimately premature death.

At present, one in four Irish kids is overweight or obese, with the Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study recording high blood pressure - a risk factor for heart disease and stroke - in eight per cent of eight to ten-year-olds studied.

Here, Chris Macey, Irish Heart Foundation Head of Advocacy, explains why Irish kids deserve better.

The extent to which junk food marketing is fuelling Ireland’s obesity crisis has been proved beyond doubt.

We know, for example, that seeing just one extra junk food ad a week will add around 18,000 extra calories to a child’s annual diet.

That’s the equivalent of eating an extra 60 cheeseburgers and on average will add 5lbs to a child’s weight.

This puts the daily bombardment of junk ads directed at children into perspective. Despite restrictions on broadcast ads, four and five year-olds still see over 1,000 ads on TV each year.

But this pales into insignificance compared to estimates that teenagers are being subjected to over 100 junk ads a week on social media.

State-funded research estimates that 85,000 of this generation of children will die prematurely due to overweight and obesity.

We’re already seeing evidence that something catastrophic has begun – children as young as eight are presenting with high blood pressure. And a report today shows teenagers with cardiovascular health comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds.

Junk food marketing isn’t solely responsible for obesity, but as a key driver, it clearly represents a huge threat to the health of our children.

The State’s failure to protect them therefore is a dereliction of duty – that many children will pay for through lives dominated by chronic disease and long-term ill health, before early and often painful death.

A year ago this week, the Irish Heart Foundation criticised the Department of Health for launching a weak voluntary code that we predicted would fail because junk food companies didn’t have to sign up and faced no penalties for breaking its terms.

Even worse, representatives of the very industry whose marketing practices are harming our children – and whose business model depends on consumers eating more junk, not less – were involved in putting the code together.

But children haven’t even been granted the poor protection that this would provide. A year later the code remains completely unenforced. And that vacuum stretches back almost three-and-a-half years to when work on the code began.

By failing to implement the code, the Department is further delaying mandatory regulation that carries the kind of monetary penalties that will end the targeting of kids by junk marketers for good.

Meanwhile, the free for all continues on digital media where advertising is more personalised, effective and therefore potentially more damaging than TV which is partially regulated.

This is mostly carried out behind parents’ backs on children’s smartphones, what marketers call the ‘brand in the hand’, enabling them to target children relentlessly all day long.

There is no justification for junk marketers having access to children so they can encourage them to over-consume and thereby compromise their health.

And there should be no role for them in deciding how children should be protected.


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