Dr Stefanie Vandevijvere, Alanna Soupen, University of Auckland
Figure 1: McDonald’s supporting junior football in New Zealand – http://stoppress.co.nz/news/world-cup-fever-hits-mcdonalds-release-new-menu-items
This blog looks at five important ways that the Children’s Code for Advertising Food could be substantially improved to protect children and young people from obesity and poor oral health. Although public health experts would generally favour a regulatory approach (given the lack of evidence for an industry-controlled process and voluntary codes (1)), the current review of the voluntary Advertising Codes in NZ does present another opportunity for the food industry to show they do want to be part of the solution to reduce New Zealand’s unacceptably high rates of obesity in children and young people (2).
Dr Robyn Toomath
Editorial note: In this blog-perspective, obesity expert Dr Robyn Toomath outlines the dogmas and arguments for the ‘individual-responsibility’ explanation and (lack of) solution to the obesity epidemic. She then points to the market failures that render (non-regulated) free-market solutions as doomed to fail. The views in this blog are expanded in greater depth in a book Dr Toomath is launching in Auckland and Wellington this month, Fat Science (Auckland University Press).
In this Public Health Expert blog, we reproduce a letter that appeared in the NZ Herald on 2 April 2016. Professors Boyd Swinburn, Rod Jackson, and Cliona Ni Mhurchu led the writing.
Dear Cabinet Ministers,
We are very concerned by New Zealand’s appallingly high rate of childhood obesity, the fourth highest in the world. In addition, every year more than 5000 children under 8 years old require general anaesthetic operations to remove rotten teeth (1). We applaud the government for making childhood obesity a national health priority, however, its action plan of 22 ‘soft’ strategies, which was launched last year with no extra funding, is not sufficient to change current trends. We urge you to implement a significant tax on sugary drinks as a core component of strengthened strategies to reduce childhood obesity and dental caries.