Choice: Fast food giants promote junk food via social media

FAST-food companies are using social media and smart phones to promote junk food to Australian children, a review of the industry's marketing tactics has found.

The consumer group Choice found the growing popularity of mobile phones had led junk food companies to push products through the medium.

While food advertising is strictly regulated on billboards and television, Choice head of media Tom Godfrey said fast food companies were "force feeding junk food advertising to kids through mobile phone applications".

"Hungry Jack's Shake and Win app, generates vouchers for free or discounted food when user shake their phone at any Hungry Jack's store," he said.

"With one-in-four Australian children overweight or obese, you have to question whether this is a responsible practice."

He said community sponsorships of sports teams was also helping promote companies like McDonalds direct to children.

"Large food companies are mainly concerned with creating brand loyalty," he said.

"Companies such as McDonald's say they don't advertise to children aged under 14, yet they do sponsor children's sports such as Little Athletics, Hoop Time basketball and Swimming Queensland."

"KFC and Milo are sponsors of Cricket Australia, and Coca-Cola sponsors Bicycle Network Victoria, which has a program for teens."

Choice advised parents to ensure their children were eating a healthy diet at home, including promoting eating two pieces of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day.