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Kids' Cam reveals extent of junk food advertizing to kids

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Associate Professor Louise Signal, an EDOR member based at the University of Otago's Department of Public Health in Wellington, has documented the junk food advertising that kids are exposed to everyday, thanks to the Kids' Cam project.

Published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, this ground-breaking study shows that our children are being bombarded with an average of 27 junk food advertisements everyday at school, at home and on the street.  And that doesn't include the advertising seen on television, in dairies and in supermarkets, as there was simply too much of it to count. 

The 168 children involved in the study were aged between 11 and 13, and came from 16 randomly selected schools across the Wellington region. Kids' Cam participants wore cameras around their necks for four days, capturing what they saw every seven seconds. The research sought to understand what life was like through a child's eyes.

Of particular concern was the significant number of advertisements for unhealthy food in schools and public places. Associate Professor Signal said the World Health Organisation's taskforce on ending childhood obesity had recommended schools and other meeting places for kids be free of marketing for unhealthy foods. Such marketing was damaging because it encouraged the repeat purchase and consumption of unhealthy foods, she said.

In New Zealand, the industry regulates its own marketing practices using a code of conduct.

"[But] our research shows that this is clearly not working. It is time for government regulation of food marketing".

Read more about the Kids' Cam study