What we do

Advertising & marketing

There is clear and robust evidence that children's exposure to unhealthy food advertising influences their food choices, influences their diets, and can contribute to poor diets, overweight and obesity. Despite Australian children's high rates of overweight and obesity, there are few controls on advertising practices targeting advertisements for unhealthy foods and beverages to children in Australia and much is left up to self-regulation by the food and beverage industry. The Obesity Policy Coalition advocates for improved regulatory controls to reduce children's exposure to this type of harmful advertising.

Policy briefs

Evidence of food advertising effects on children

This policy brief summarises the findings of the major reviews of the evidence of food advertising effects on children and experts' recommendations for interventions to restrict food advertising to children.

Food advertising to children

This policy brief discusses the effect of food and beverage advertising of unhealthy food on children and the Obesity Policy Coalition’s recommendation that legislation be introduced to regulate promotion of unhealthy food to children.

How unhealthy food is marketed to children using digital media

A range of new marketing techniques are being used by the food and beverage industry to reach children. This policy brief explores the impact of digital marketing techniques and policy options to reduce children’s exposure to this marketing and improve their health.

Unhealthy food sponsorship of children's sport

Australian sport, including children's sport, is inundated with sponsorship by unhealthy brands, including food and beverage brands. The presence of unhealthy food branding and marketing in children’s sport sends contradictory messages to children and influences their brand preferences. This policy brief outlines the harmful impacts on children as well as the community's desire to restrict these marketing activities and some options for doing so.

Food advertising regulation in Australia

Food advertising in Australia is regulated under a complex mix of statutory regulations and voluntary, self-regulatory codes. This policy brief examines these regulations and codes and explains why they are inadequate to protect children from unhealthy food advertising. It concludes that comprehensive legislation restricting unhealthy food advertising to children is urgently required.

Restrictions on marketing unhealthy food to children – international comparison

This brief provides a guide to the regimes that aim to restrict marketing of unhealthy food and beverages that are in place in a number of jurisdictions internationally.

Reports

End the Charade! The ongoing failure to protect children from unhealthy food marketing (2015)

This report demonstrates that Australia's system for protecting children from unhealthy food marketing, mostly a voluntary, self-regulatory system, operated by the food and advertising industries, is continuing to fail. The few protections that do exist are being slowly weakened, and with no accountability or input from stakeholders.

Exposing the Charade (2012)

This report contains a detailed analysis to illustrate how the advertising codes that claim to protect children from junk food advertising in Australia have resolutely failed. Further, the report highlights the litany of loopholes being used by the processed food industry to continue to promote their products despite childhood obesity sitting at record levels.

Protecting children from unhealthy food advertising and promotion (2011)

This report sets out a plan for federal and state and territory governments to enact legislation to restrict all forms of advertising and promotion of unhealthy food and beverages to children. It specifies how legislation should operate, the types of advertising and promotion that should be restricted, and proposes definitions for key terms and phrases such as ‘unhealthy food’ and ‘directed to children’. 

Submissions

Dept of Communication's review of Australian Communications & Media Authority (2015)

The OPC's submission focuses upon the role the Australian Communications and Media Authority, or any new broadcasting agency, should play to protect children from unhealthy food advertising that may be harmful to them.

ACT Government's consultation ‘Have your say on food and drink marketing in Canberra, particularly those aimed at children' (2015)

The OPC's submission highlighted the importance of a comprehensive approach, led by government, capable of ensuring that children's exposure to unhealthy food marketing is reduced in a meaningful way. Further information about the ACT's consultation is available here

Free TV Australia's review of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (2015)

The OPC's submission focuses upon the role that the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice (CTICP) should play in restricting unhealthy food advertising to children and it expresses concern about the proposal to remove the only clauses that relate to unhealthy food advertising to children. Free TV Australia released its new CTICP on 10 November 2015, which removed the clauses relating to unhealthy food advertising to children. The new code is available here.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand Consultation on Proposal P1030 (2014)

In 2014, Food Standards Australia New Zealand consulted publicly on a proposal to change the way formulated supplementary sports foods and electrolyte drinks (including popular sports drinks) were regulated. Public health and consumer groups opposed the proposal in written submissions, arguing the proposed changes would be misleading and would undermine initiatives aimed at empowering healthy dietary choices.

Enhancing Children's Online Safety Commonwealth Government (2014)

The OPC's submission emphasised that issues around children's online safety are not limited to this type of overtly sinister behaviour, and other harmful impacts on health should also be considered.

Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) Contemporary Community Safeguards Inquiry (2013)

This submission provided comment on principles underpinning broadcasting industry codes under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth), in response to the Australian Communications and Media Authority Contemporary Community Safeguards Inquiry. The OPC commented on issues of children's protection and ethical standards, emphasising the ongoing need for improved protections for children against harmful advertising.

Complaints

The OPC monitors marketing by food and beverage companies of unhealthy food and drinks. Where the OPC considers that marketing of unhealthy food and drinks is likely to impact negatively on children or the public, in breach of codes and regulations, the OPC submits complaints to the relevant administrator. The OPC has made complaints to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Communications and Media Authority and Ad Standards (formerly the Advertising Standards Bureau).