Heart disease and obesity kills thousands of Australians every year so why isn’t junk food advertising put in the same category as smoking? Our subscribers disagree.

Isn’t it great to see McDonalds flagging their first ever quarterly loss? As
usual, it’s the new CEO syndrome blaming the last bloke for stuffing up, in this
case ousted Maccas boss Jack Greenberg.

Crikey would love to see governments follow the global path-finding lead being
mooted by the Kiwis to restrict junk food advertising.

That would really stick it up the burger giants.

Heart disease and obesity kills thousands of Australians every year so why isn’t
junk food advertising put in the same category as smoking.

But subscribers are not rushing to support Crikeys call for a ban on fast food advertising, published in Wednesday’s sealed section.

Barklimore writes:

Crikey sez: “Heart disease and obesity kills thousands of Australians every year so why isn’t junk food advertising put in the same category as smoking?”

The answer to that is simple Crikey: no one suffers from “Passive obesity”, and whilst they may be offensive to the eye, they do not contaminate your clothes, the air you breathe, and a half eaten burger thrown out of a passing car will not start a bushfire.

Makes it a slightly different category in my book.
Barklimore (Ex Smoker)

Leroy Lawyer writes:

Fair suck of the sav, Crikey!

I’m no fan of the Burgermeisters but there’s a world of difference between
advertising an addictive poisonous cancer-causing product and two all-beef
patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.
Last time I walked past the Golden-Arch Restaurant they weren’t
press-ganging the punters through the door. They seemed to be coming
through in droves, in all shapes and sizes, apparently of their own

Unlike an old Lib to be urging more regulation on the flogging of a product
whose purchase must surely be a matter of personal choice. Is no-one
responsible for what they do any more?

You obviously need a longer holiday!

Ask Piers writes:

Whilst I am keen to see obesity levels fall, and general eating quality improve, there are a number of faults in your comparison between smoking and junk food, and a number of issues with your call for the limiting or banning of junk food advertising:

1. Junk food is not chemically addictive – like chocolate, people may enjoy the taste, and therefore keep going back, but they are not physically addicted (yes, I am aware that rare cases may contradict this, but I have never seen anyone’s hand shaking because they need an order of fries).

2. Cigarettes offer NO nutritional value – a hungry person can benefit from junk food, whereas cigarettes do not achieve anything other than satisfying nicotine craving. Unlike cigarettes, junk food is better than nothing.

3. A great deal of junk food is not advertised. The majority of ‘junk food’ purchased by my household is from the local chicken shop that does not advertise. Only the big obvious targets would be hurt by such a ban.

4. I know very few children who earn their own money. Children’s eating of junk food is facilitated by their parents. Nowhere in their advertising do fast food chains state that buying kids junk food is easier than cooking it yourself – parents have managed to work this out themselves, and banning advertising will not change this.

5. There are many households out there that produce home cooked meals of equal or lower nutritional value than junk food. Junk food is just one of several avenues to obesity (soft drinks are a big contributor, which can be successfully consumed in the household). Targetting only one easy target makes us feel good, but ignores the real problem.

6. Half the problem is the amount of energy being burned, not consumed. A know a lot of athletes who are fit, but still eat junk food. I know very few overweight people who are physically active.

7. My average dinner out at a restaurant would contain vastly more calories and fat than a McDonalds meal. Compare a pasta alfredo with a Big Mac some time. A ban on junk food advertising will more greatly affect poor people, whilst the soufle crowd are untouched. This is both unfair and patronising.

8. If McDonalds are making a loss, then this shows that the market is working. The dire offereing they serve up on television in an attempt to induce patronage is testimony to this. I don’t eat McDonalds because it tastes awful, in my opinion. The market allows us to exercise our economic preferences AND our personal/moral preferences. To achieve healthier eating, we have to change people’s preferences – this is a much harder problem, and needs more detailed solutions than a knee-jerk advertising ban.

One would hope that Crikey’s academic qualifications would steer them away from populist solutions such as this.


Ask Piers

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