The Christchurch Press has printed at least its share of Big X scaremongering stories, though it's hardly the worst out there.
Junk food and junk-food advertising with all its attendant devices to make it appealing to the susceptible have been around for much longer than that. Coca-Cola, for instance, has used pictures of slim and attractive young people to sell its product for more than a century. Whatever the cause of the appalling and relatively recent, rise of obesity, advertising must have had little to do with it.I agree with The Press here. It's also consistent with The Press's editorial position on a few other related matters.
In addition, advertising of food to children is already governed by an Advertising Standards Authority code which says that food advertisements should not undermine the food and nutrition policies of the Government, the Ministry of Health food and nutrition guidelines nor the wellbeing of children. Advertisements should also observe a high standard of social responsibility to consumers and to society and not undermine the role of parents in educating children to have a balanced diet and be healthy individuals.
That last point is the nub of the problem. Children may be suggestible and advertisements should not target them. But parents are ultimately responsible for what their children eat and for educating them on what is good to eat. Tackling that would be far more effective in lowering obesity than any advertising ban.
But a media that has done so much to fuel demand for stories blaming Big X for everything, that has allowed Otago public health folks repeated unchallenged assertions in stories about the evils of Big X, that has only rarely countenanced in its health reporting that there could be principled opposition rather than just interested opposition to Otago public health proposals, well, that kind of media leaves itself very vulnerable when Otago starts proposing ad bans. Because they helped to build the generalised public mood that only Big Media, dependent on Big Advertising dollars from Big X, could ever oppose Otago's sensible and moderate proposals to ban advertising.
No surprise then that the third comment down on The Press's editorial reads "A company that makes its money from selling advertising creates an editorial suggesting advertising bans are not a good idea? Conflicted much editor?"
Those who tend the fever swamps risk malaria.