In particular, the paper notes recent Australian Government approaches to dealing with this issue and the stance taken in favour of advertising regulation by the Australian Greens.
In an analysis of studies which have looked at advertising from the persuasive/manipulative perspective, American academics John Harms and Douglas Kellner conclude that it creates meanings for consumers through visual imagery.One policy intervention which can help to achieve populations with well adjusted weight levels involves introducing and maintaining strategies that encourage healthy eating habits.But the extensive array of convenience and pre-packaged foods high in fat, sugar and salt (so called junk foods) which are increasingly available across the world, often promoted in large or multiple serving sizes, has made eating healthily a challenge—for individuals personally, and for policymakers indirectly. Many have argued that the challenge has been compounded by a bombardment of marketing and advertising that surreptitiously and adversely influences people’s food preferences and consumption patterns. There has been considerable advocacy therefore, as a result of this thinking, which has exhorted governments to place limitations on the marketing of junk foods, particularly to children. This paper considers some of the available evidence relating to the influence of the various forms of advertising in general, their influence on children and on consumption habits.Arguments that the junk food industry voluntarily and responsibly limits the exposure of children to excessively manipulative promotion of its products appear to have been successful in maintaining a largely self- regulatory environment in Australia.This is despite the findings of national and international studies that indicate more action may need to be taken, and the imposition of various bans and taxes in other countries.After that came the magazine phenomenon of the 1970s — creating magazines for an identifiable special audience and selling them to particular advertisers. There are a number of other means which advertisers use to persuade and influence purchasing choice.These include advertorials or infomercials, which are advertisements presented as legitimate news or articles. Back to top It was unusual for children to be targeted by advertisers until television became commonplace in homes during the twentieth century.Acknowledments: The author is grateful for the constructive comments and suggestions made on a previous version of this paper by Ms Kaye Mehta, Senior Lecturer, Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Flinders University.Thanks also to my colleagues, Dr Matthew Thomas and Paula Pyburne, for their valuable contributions.Effectively, this means that in a consumer-oriented society, people define themselves as consumers and they are persuaded that they gain a fundamental gratification from consumption.So advertisers generate systems of meaning, prestige and identity by associating their products with certain life-styles, symbolic values and pleasures. What this amounts to is a situation where advertising works to affect purchasing in a variety of subtle ways, as is illustrated in the box below.