The $70 billion Australian junk food industry is now applying PR strategies originally developed by the tobacco industry in a bid to avoid government regulation. Australia's federal government is readying a report about reducing obesity, which could lead to higher taxes on unhealthy foods and a ban on junk food advertising. In anticipation, junk and snack food companies are playing down the health risks of their products, adopting voluntary advertising codes, producing "healthier" smaller and lower-sugar versions of candies and chocolate bars, arranging for food industry representatives to sit on regulatory boards, and funding educational programs to try to look like good corporate citizens. For example, McDonald's started providing free online math tutorials for children, similar to cigarette companies' youth education and prevention programs, launched to blunt the push for regulation. One leading health source noticed the resemblance between the food industry's tactics to those employed by Big Tobacco: ''Deny the evidence, delay, infiltrate yourself into governments, have big lobbying outfits, work through voluntary codes. It's the same techniques."
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