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Comparison of food industry policies and commitments on marketing to children and product (re)formulation in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji

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Unhealthy food environments are known to be major drivers of diet-related non-communicable diseases globally, and there is an imperative for major food companies to be publicly accountable for their actions to improve the healthiness of food environments. This paper examines the prevalence of publicly available policies and commitments of major packaged food and soft drink manufacturers, and fast-food restaurants in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with respect to reducing food marketing to children and product (re)formulation. In each country, the most prominent companies in each sector were selected. Company policies, commitments and relevant industry initiatives were gleaned from company and industry association websites. In Australia and New Zealand, there are a higher proportion of companies with publicly available marketing and formulation policies than in Fiji. However, even in Australia, a large proportion of the most prominent food companies do not have publicly available policies. Where they exist, policies on food marketing to children generally focus on those aged less than 12, do not apply to all types of media, marketing channels and techniques, and do not provide transparency with respect to the products to which the policies apply. Product formulation policies, where they exist, focus mostly on salt reduction and changes to the make-up of overall product portfolios, and do not generally address saturated fat, added sugar and energy reduction. In the absence of strong policies and corresponding actions by the private sector, it is likely that government action (e.g. through co-regulation or legislation) will be needed to drive improved company performance.
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Keywords: food industry; food marketing; policy; product reformulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia 2: School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand 3: The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Publication date: May 27, 2015

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