Still chewing fat with graphic government ad campaigns

About one in three Queensland adults is obese.
About one in three Queensland adults is obese.

EDITORIAL: The Queensland Government has "declared war" on our rising obesity rates, with an ad campaign aiming to shock people into getting healthy.

With graphic images of the health problems caused by obesity, the government hopes its campaign will have a similar positive effect as recent anti-smoking and road safety campaigns.

The LiveLighter campaign will cost about $7.5 million over the course of three years.

That amount is small fry, compared to the mounting burden that obesity-related illnesses are putting on our health system.

About one in three Queensland adults is now obese, and more than a quarter of children are overweight too.

"Extra padding" has become the leading preventable cause of early deaths in the state, even more than smoking - so it is clear that something needs to be done urgently.

But I don't understand the logic behind spending millions of taxpayer dollars on an advertising campaign to get people to eat healthily, when for every dollar the government spends, the fast food giants will spend hundreds more.

In 2008, McDonald's spent $1.2 billion on advertising in the United States alone, and Yum! Brands, the owner of KFC and Pizza Hut, spend $960 million.

Given Queensland's well-documented financial strife, I don't see us spending that kind of money in a bid to counteract the images of juicy burgers dripping with fat.

But there is a cheaper option: ban junk food advertising.

Don't just prevent McDonald's ads being posted near schools, or during kids' TV time.

Ban it altogether.

In advertising, the mighty dollar is everything, and since the government can't afford to compete with the budgets of junk-food pedlars, it needs to look at other options.

It's time to get real about not just the risk of obesity, but the hypocrisy in paying for a campaign to limit junk food while bowing to lobbyists who have a vested interest in our kids buying burgers.

Topics:  advertising campaign clementine norton government obesity

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