Sun Herald columnist Miranda Devine has jumped to the defence of former Play School presenter Monica
Trapaga who has once again come under attack for
appearing on a Kellogg’s Coco Pops ad. According to Devine Monica, an “all-round nice person” has become the
“bete noir of the fascist food movement,” most recently in a Four Corners report on childhood obesity.

The mother of two is being “abused by mothers on the streets of Glebe, chastised on her
network, scolded by parents’ groups and vilified in hate mail…” All because she appears in an ad for the
“innocuous sugary breakfast” cereal that some parents’ groups are
“treating as if it were crack cocaine,” says Devine.

The cereal ad first appeared last year, to the outrage of parents groups
such as the Coalition on
Food Advertising to Children, who registered a complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
on the grounds that Monica “misled and deceived children” by neglecting to mention the cereal’s high sugar content.

But Devine says that Trapaga is “whippet slim despite the fact she ate
Pops as a child…Some people are never happy unless they’re banning
something, and emboldened food fascists believe junk food is the new tobacco
and plan to stamp it out in the same way.”

Kaye Mehta, chairperson of the Coalition on Food Advertising to
Children, told Crikey, “There is no doubt that there are
parallels with tobacco
advertising. The root causes of childhood obesity are high fat and
sugar foods and not enough exercise… If we saw fit to ban advertising of cigarettes and alcohol
children, then we believe that there should be regulation of junk food

The ACMA rejected the Coalition’s complaint about the Coco Pops ad on
the grounds that it wasn’t targeted at children as it was run in an
adult time slot.

So how to combat the childhood obesity problem when there’s a
resistance by government, the advertising industry and
powerful food lobby groups to ban junk food advertising to kids? A team of
two mothers with marketing
and television backgrounds, Kate Evans and Rachel Knott, have
come up with an alternative approach by
launching Kids
The ‘Kids Connect Approved’ Logo will appear on products that have been
endorsed by a panel of experts, including dieticians, food
scientists, a GP, parents and nutritionists.

The brand will begin airing infomercial style TV ads in November, in addition to a print
and online presence. “There’s no parent out there that would intentionally give
their child a diet
that is going to give them liver disease when they’re thirty,” Kate Evans told Crikey. “But
parents have nowhere to turn to get support.”

Once Kids Connect agree to endorse a product, the client pays a
licensing fee for them to market the product. “There’s no hidden
agenda, this is a commercial venture…But we have our
guidelines,” says Evans. “We won’t have the head dietician
from Deakin University
endorsing a product that’s unfit for kids.”

Evans wouldn’t be drawn
on Monica’s ringing endorsement of Coco Pops, but our
guess is the chocolate covered cereal won’t be in the running for a tick.

CRIKEY: Crikey contacted the Australian Communication and Media
Authority for a detailed explanation of ruling on the Coco Pops ad, but
they didn’t get back to us.