SYDNEY: Expenditure on ads promoting snack foods and drinks in Australia has declined by more than half since 2005, new research from the World Federation of Advertisers has revealed.

According to the industry body's estimates, spending levels on advertising for products that are high in fat, sugar or salt content in the country fell from A$370 million ($320m; €219m; £193m) in 2005 to A$180m in 2008.

Figures from Mediaedge:cia also show that the number of ads for such goods that were ultimately viewed by children declined by 35% between 2005 and 2007.

At the beginning of this year, the Australian Food and Grocery Council, which represents a variety of major manufacturers in the sector, launched the Responsible Children's Marketing Initiative in order to crack down on these sorts of commercials.

This required the 16 participating companies to "publicly commit to marketing communications to children under 12, only when it will further the goal of promoting healthy dietary choices and healthy lifestyles."

Among the firms that signed up to take part in the programme were Nestlé, Unilever, Kellogg, Kraft, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury.

Kate Carnell, chief executive of the Australian Food and Grocery Council, said "these results highlight that industry is helping to make a difference."

"It's expected that this trend of reducing the amount of advertising of HFSS foods will continue into the future under the industry code," she added.

Data sourced from Australian Food News; additional content by WARC staff