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Childrens Health or corporate wealth


Food marketing influences children’s food preferences, food choices and the food they ask their parents to buy.

The large amount of unhealthy food marketing in Australia distorts the perception of a healthy diet, particularly for impressionable children. The diet presented by food advertising is one low in fruits and vegetables and high in fast food, chocolate and snack foods.

Children’s Health or Corporate Wealth? addresses the current issues with the food marketing to children self-regulatory codes that the food industry uses.

Cancer Council has released the report following the release of their survey on community attitudes to food marketing to children which showed three quarters of the community support a ban on unhealthy food advertising that targets children.

Clare Hughes, Cancer Council’s Nutrition Program Manager, says

“The government has community support to protect children from the marketing of unhealthy food so now they must call ‘time’ on the facade of self-regulation and introduce effective legislation that will give children meaningful protection from the influence of unhealthy food marketing.”

Children’s exposure to food advertising that promotes unhealthy foods can be reduced by improving existing regulations.

Regulation of food marketing to children should:
• Protect the health of children over corporate interests.
• Apply to all media and forms of marketing, including TV, radio and print advertising, online marketing, food company websites and apps, social media, sports sponsorship, on-pack and in-store promotions and outdoor advertising, that is directed to children aged under 16 years, or to which a high number of children under 16 years are likely to be exposed.
• Use independently-developed and consistent nutrition criteria to ensure only healthy foods are promoted to children.
• Include independent, clear and transparent monitoring and enforcement processes.

Read the Children’s Health or Corporate Wealth? Brief Report
Download the full Children’s Health or Corporate Wealth? report

Reducing children and young people’s exposure to the marketing and advertising of unhealthy foods is included under Strategic Direction 1 in the NSW Healthy Eating and Active Living Strategy: Preventing overweight and obesity in New South Wales 2013-2018.


McDonald's Emlings app

McDonald’s Emlings app

McDonald’s has released the Emlings mobile phone application aimed at 4-8 year olds. According to the website it is intended to “encourage creative play”. The app features ‘Happy’, the cartoon character based on the Happy Meal box. Children can scan Happy Meal boxes to access the app although it can also be accessed via the website.


We believe the app is breaching the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative that McDonald’s has signed up to because it advertises Happy Meals to children and not all Happy Meals meet the ‘healthy’ criteria within the Initiative. The Advertising Standards Board dismissed our complaint.

Although previously the Advertising Standards Board had found that the mention of a Happy Meal without products is a reference to all Happy Meals, in this case the Board ruled that, “there is not a requirement in this context for each image of the Happy Meal Box to be accompanied by a picture of the healthier choice meal”. The Board found that the product promoted in the game was the Happy Meal containing the chicken snack wrap, apple slices fruit bag and flavoured milk and “the depiction of a complete meal including all recommended food groups is an example of modelling good dietary habits”.

The Board report made a comment that the minimum play time of 30 minutes is a lengthy period for a young child playing a computer game but it was suggested this was within Government guidelines and the report concluded “physical activity is being portrayed and encouraged to the extent possible in a game”. Advertising Standards Board Case Report 0166/14.

What do you think? Is this type of branded game ok for under 8 year olds?