OPC applauds UK's move to stop companies marketing unhealthy food on television and online

12 May 2021

World-leading policy bans unhealthy food marketing online

The Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) has welcomed today’s commitment by the UK Government to stop the processed food industry from targeting children with a total ban of unhealthy food advertisements online and prior to 9pm on TV, and is urging the Australian Government to follow suit.

The new rules are expected to affect the marketing of unhealthy foods, from ads on television, to online ads on Facebook, paid-search results on Google, text message promotions, and social media activity on Twitter and Instagram.

Executive Manager of the OPC, Jane Martin, praised the UK Government’s decision to put children’s health over profits and said the Australian Government owes our children the same protection from unhealthy food marketing, particularly online. 

“Digital media is an important part of children’s lives. They use it for education, communication and for entertainment – and should be able to do so without being bombarded with marketing for unhealthy food. The processed food industry spends millions every year marketing its unhealthy products to children. When Australian teens go online, they see almost 100 promotions for unhealthy food every week – this must stop.”

Ms Martin said that every child should be able to play, learn and live in a world that supports and promotes their wellbeing and that our community expects government to put children’s health above the processed food industry’s profits, with 7 out of 10 adults wanting government to step in to protect children from unhealthy food marketing*.

“The UK’s policy demonstrates to the rest of world that such measures aimed at protecting children are both feasible and politically acceptable. Their leadership, together with the strong public support for government regulation, adds to the breadth of evidence highlighting a need for government to act and implement higher standards to protect children from the processed food industry’s marketing,” Ms Martin said.


*Nuss T, Chen YJM, Dixon H, Morley B. (2020). Australians’ support for initiatives to protect children from unhealthy food and drink marketing and advertising. Research brief, prepared for: Obesity Policy Coalition. Melbourne, Australia: Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria.