Parents call for boycott of venues selling junk food



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A parents advocacy group has called for a boycott of entertainment and sporting venues which promote and sell junk food.

The Parents Jury says they want governments to enforce healthy food guidelines across the hospitality industry.

A poll conducted by the advocacy group of more than 250 of its members about children’s eating-out options has revealed that in excess of 60% of parents are dissatisfied with food options for their children when eating out and 50% often avoid taking their children to certain venues because of the unhealthy food served.

The Parents Jury aims to substantially reduce the marketing of junk foods to young children on television and also at cinemas, swimming pools and sporting events and say Australian children face a barrage of advertisements for confectionery and snack food from a number of sources.

The poll rated cinema menus of popcorn, ‘choc-top’ ice-creams and fizzy drinks as the worst, closely followed by swimming pools and sports centres and the advocacy group say healthy food guidelines, similar to those already in place at school canteens, should be implemented.

The Parents Jury says food advertisements are more often for unhealthy foods of low nutritional value such as confectionery, sweetened breakfast cereals and fast food and those directed at children often use sophisticated marketing techniques such as give-aways, competitions, celebrity endorsements, animations and jingles to increase a child’s desire to purchase the product.

They also, say the Parents Jury, often give a distorted, misleading message and do not provide a clear nutritional representation and what is more, undermine the attempts of parents to provide children with a healthy diet.

Experts say approximately 25-30% of Australian children are overweight or obese and Australia has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world, which is rapidly increasing.

Overweight and obese children have a high risk of becoming an overweight or obese adult and social isolation, poor self-esteem and depression are all linked to weight problems - they also have an increased risk of developing diabetes, some types of cancer and heart disease.

Australian children are eating a high percentage of energy dense, high fat, high sugar and low fibre foods - often foods which are aimed at children.

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) said a more comprehensive strategy including education on diet and exercise, rather than national guidelines is needed and says the market place is demanding healthier options and the industry is responding accordingly.

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