The Obesity Policy Coalition has thrown its support behind efforts to protect children from unhealthy food advertising to improve diets and address Australia’s obesity epidemic.
This follows a recent call from independent MP, Dr Sophie Scamps, demanding the Federal government act to ban junk food advertising to children, a measure outlined under the National Obesity Strategy released in March this year. Dr Scamps is introducing a private member’s bill to stop unhealthy food advertising and sponsorship aimed at children.
Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) said urgent action is needed to improve children’s diets and address childhood obesity.
“Our children deserve to go about their daily lives without being bombarded by ads for unhealthy food and sugary drinks which is the wallpaper that surrounds their lives,” Ms Martin said.
“Kids should be free to enjoy their favourite prime time TV shows like Lego Masters without seeing ads for cookies or attend their weekend footy or netball games without fast food sponsorships.
“Food advertisers are spending more than $550 million on advertising of food and (non-alcoholic) drinks in Australia, mostly for unhealthy processed foods.[i]
“This marketing influences children’s diets and impacts what kids want to eat, what they ask for and shapes their palates from an early age.
“We know 7 in 10 Australians support government setting higher standards to prioritise children’s health above the profits of the processed food industry.”
The OPC has launched a platform, Brands off our kids!, calling for governments to set higher standards to protect children from the processed food industry’s unhealthy food marketing.
The campaign calls for four actions to protect children:
- Ensure TV, radio and cinemas are free from unhealthy food marketing from 6am to 9:30pm
- Prevent unhealthy food companies from targeting children
- Ensure public spaces and events are free from unhealthy food marketing
- Protect children from digital marketing of unhealthy food
Ms Martin said thirty-eight public health, consumer and community groups, together with hundreds of individuals, have already signed on to support action by government to stop unhealthy food marketing seen by children.
“Government must set higher standards for the way the processed food industry can promote their unhealthy products. This is about creating a community that sends the right message about healthy living to our kids as they grow, learn and play.”
“We’re urging people to sign up to the Brands off our kids! campaign to support healthier environments to help our children to thrive and be healthy.”
[i] The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. Standing up for strict limits on junk food marketing to children in our local communities. Factsheet. The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. https://preventioncentre.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Factsheet_junk-food-promotion-to-children_final.pdf Published 2016