A new research conducted by an Australian organisation Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has found that more than half of supermarket products marketed for children are unhealthy.
The survey included 186 packaged foods that exhibited cartoon characters to attract children.
About 52% of these packaged foods were found to be unhealthy by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion calculator.
The amount of saturated fat, sugars, sodium was higher in these products than the prescribed level.
In the survey, 26 of 30 kids' snack bars, 30 of 34 ice-creams and lollies, and 17 cheese snacks out of 28 were found to be unhealthy.
About 13 breakfast cereal products of 41 and ten dairy snacks from 53 were also classified as unhealthy.
OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin said: “It's extremely frustrating to see cartoons and animations being used to lure children and create pester power to push parents into buying unhealthy products for kids.
“Children are naturally drawn to fun, colourful characters on foods in the supermarket, and food companies are fully aware of this.
“They know that children have an incredible amount of power over what their parents buy, and that's why Chile, a country that has been very progressive in obesity prevention, has restricted the use of cartoons on unhealthy food packaging.”
Food advertising in Australia is self-regulated and the current industry-led regulations do not include food packaging.
Martin added: “We want food manufacturers to stop using animations to promote junk food in any way to kids and for the Federal Government to extend and strengthen existing junk food marketing regulations.”
He also stated that about 27% of Australian children are overweight or obese and that urgent action is necessary to prevent manufacturers from using food packaging to entice children.
Image: Interior of a supermarket. Photo: courtesy of Macic7.