Back to school promotions focusing on profit, not kids’ health

31/01/2014 Help for Parents, HKA News, Lunchbox, Nutrition News A hub of girls and Crunch&Sip fruit

As school started back up, we noticed that many retailers jump on the bandwagon with back to school promotions. Every year they offer free stationery, labels or school equipment in exchange for points or tokens accumulated with the purchase of specific products, mostly food items.

In our opinion, these promotions are marketing to children and they should be held against the marketing to children guidelines developed in partnership by the AFGC and the AANA. These guidelines restrict the marketing of high fat, salt and added sugar foods to children. They were introduced in response to the rising obesity epidemic happening worldwide.

But more importantly, the bigger question here is: shouldn’t these back to school promotions consist of foods that are from the five food groups, in order to promote healthy eating? Obesity in Australia is a big issue. In fact, three in five Australian adults and one in four Australian children are reported as being overweight or obese.

Healthy choices are learned from a young age
Eating habits are developed from a young age – the people we interact with and the environment that surrounds us help shape them. The whole society should be guiding young children on healthy eating choices and foods that are appropriate for everyday consumption. So many big companies talk about corporate and social responsibility, but their actions speak louder than their words and are not delivering the right message.

Instead, they take their best selling packaged products and discount them heavily to get us to purchase more. Is this ethical or right? What role should they play in helping to influence healthier choices for the health of the nation? We think they should be sending a healthier message.

Lunch boxes should be made up of FOUR key components:

• Main lunch (a sandwich or leftovers).

• A piece of fresh fruit.

• Small snack based on five food groups (e.g. yoghurt or wholegrain crackers with cheese).

• A drink (in addition to a water bottle every day) – a small 99% fruit juice or reduced fat milk drink.

For active children or those growing quickly, an additional snack can be added to provide more energy and the nutrients.

Our recommendation is to only include a pre-packaged food such as a muesli bar or sweet biscuit once a week, and to do so on a day when extra activity is included.