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Government must tackle targeting of children by junk food marketers – Mitchell

8 February, 2019 - by Denise Mitchell TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Children and Youth Affairs Denise Mitchell TD has called for recommendations in the Report on Tackling Childhood Obesity to be implemented by Government, in particular moves to restrict the ability of junk food companies to target children via social media, mobile gaming apps and other forms of media.

Deputy Mitchell, who is a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs which produced the report, said the targeted advertising of children by junk food marketers needed to be addressed:

“The reality is prevention is better than cure and the recommendations of this report contain some very simple ways to ensure that children are educated about their diets, and that the targeted advertising of our children by junk food companies is restricted.

“What we are seeing is the constant pushing of junk-food on kids via broadcast media, visual media and in particularly via social media and mobile gaming. The only way to tackle the constant pushing of junk food and unhealthy drinks at children is through legislation.  Voluntary codes simply don't work.”

Deputy Mitchell also called for the ending of placing of vending machines in schools:

“It is bizarre to have students in Home Economics class being taught about how to eat healthy, and then when they walk out of classroom they have vending machines selling junk food on their corridors.

“I know some schools say they rely on the money generated by these machines and I think that is wrong.  No school should have to rely on takings from a vending machine - so that is something that needs to be looked at also.

“Overall this is a great report and which if implemented properly will go a long way towards tackling the obesity crisis amongst our young people so I just hope it doesn't end up sitting on a shelf.” 

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