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NZ: Battle about childhood obesity fought in the Dominion Post

On 4 October Jeremy Irwin of the Food Industry Group and Association of New Zealand Advertisers had an opinion piece in the Dominion Post. As is usual for advocates from the groups he represents, Mr Irwin focussed on increasing opportunities for physical activity as a means of combating childhood obesity. He attempted to divert attention away from what children eat and how this is advertised. He accused groups wanting to restrict advertising of unhealthy food to children of having a “vested interest”.

Celia Murphy, the executive director of the Obesity Action Coalition was given a right of reply by the Dominion Post, which was published on 12 October. Celia criticised the food industry’s failure to restrain its aggressive marketing to children and the lack of logic in Mr Irwin’s article. She pointed out the weaknesses of an Australian opinion poll that Mr Irwin referred to, and quoted the poll conducted for FOE by BRC Marketing and Social Research poll last year. This poll found that almost three-quarters (71%) of adults surveyed by BRC last year agreed or strongly agreed that “advertisements for unhealthy food and drink products should be banned during children’s TV programmes”.

John White from FOE had a letter to the editor published on 10 October in which he pointed out the irony of Mr Irwin accusing those wanting to restrict advertising of unhealthy foods to children given the obvious vested interests of the groups he represents.

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Read more about the poll

Published on October 13, 2006 in New Zealand news