Melbourne, Dec 5 (ANI): An Australian report has revealed that major junk food outlets are targeting children under the age of 12 through direct mail as part of their sophisticated online marketing campaigns to pre-teens that include special offers, free food vouchers and competitions.
Campaigns by fast-food outlets Hungry Jacks and Taco Bill Mexican Restaurants have been highlighted in a submission to a Senate inquiry on privacy laws made by a coalition of some of the country's peak health bodies, reports the Courier Mail.
The Obesity Policy Coalition, which includes the World Health Organisation, Diabetes Australia, VicHealth and Cancer Council of Victoria, has called on the Federal Government to amend the Privacy Act to outlaw direct mail advertising to children.
The coalition has also complained about the online promotion of confectionery products such as Smarties, a Nestle product, which recently ran an online colouring competition for three to 10-year-olds.
"There's plenty of issues but we're very concerned that marketing is done across a lot of different platforms," said Obesity Policy Coalition senior policy officer Jane Martin.
"It's very cheap to be on these platforms," he added.
The submission to the Senate Finance and Public Administration committee looking at new draft privacy laws has asked the committee to consider recommending privacy protections for children to protect them from direct mail promotion without parental consent.
Martin said Hungry Jacks used its ''kids club' to promote itself.
"They collect your information in store or online. You register to join the kids club, which you can be a member of until you're 12. You depart the kids club with an upsize card," he added.
The submission said Hungry Jacks and Taco Bill have been offering children free meals for their birthdays, free ice cream vouchers and other offers such as a recent Hungry Jacks promotion offering AFL finger puppets.
"Children's susceptibility to commercial influence means that use of their personal information for direct marketing unfairly manipulates them, and is likely to harm them in other ways," it added.
"For example, direct marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children may influence them to consume unhealthy diets, and contribute to them becoming overweight or obese."
The Federal Government has so far rejected the push to give children protection from direct mail under privacy laws and said children are protected from electronic direct marketing by spam laws. (ANI)