The food industry has promised to voluntarily stop advertising unhealthy junk food to children. And according to industry-sponsored reports they do live up to these promises.
A new independent scientific review show something completely different: Children are still the targets of lots of advertising. Independent surveys in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America showed little change in the last five years, despite industry’s assurances that things would improve. Here’s comments from the senior author of the study:
Self-regulation simply does not work in a highly competitive marketplace. Asking the companies to restrict their own marketing is like asking a burglar to fix the locks on your front door. They will say you are protected, but you are not.
So what could work? The three things that Big Junk Food fear the most:
- Smarter, better-informed citizens
- Government intervention
Let’s face it: The industry will continue to fight on all three fronts. E.g. by trying to fool & confuse the public á la Coca Cola or spending millions on lobbyists to stop any regulation. Lawsuits may be their biggest vulnerability. But they will fight on all fronts. In a “highly competitive marketplace” they have no other choice.
We should stop expecting the burglar to fix our locks. Yes you too, Michelle Obama.