Food for Health Alliance welcomes Federal MP’s bill to tackle children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing

19 Jun 2023

Food for Health Alliance today welcomed a new Private Member’s Bill that would restrict unhealthy food and drink advertising during set times on TV and radio, and at all times online.

The Broadcasting Services Amendment (Healthy Kids Advertising) Bill 2023 tabled today by independent Federal MP, Dr Sophie Scamps, proposes amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to protect Australian children from exposure to unhealthy food marketing on TV and radio including subscription (streaming) services between 6am and 9.30pm and online at all times.

Food for Health Alliance Executive Manager, Jane Martin praised action to protect Australian children from the pervasive influence of unhealthy food marketing and urged the Federal Government to safeguard children’s health and wellbeing.

“Australian children should be free to enjoy TV shows with their family, connect with friends on social media or search online for entertainment and education without being bombarded by unhealthy food or drink ads,” Ms Martin said.

“Our children cannot escape this wallpaper of unhealthy food marketing that influences what they prefer, choose and eat. The processed food industry knows this marketing works, that’s why they spend millions of dollars every year targeting kids with unhealthy food and drink ads. This harmful marketing shapes their diet and tastes as they grow, increasing the risks of obesity and chronic diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes.

“Our community supports action. Seven in 10 Australians agree that government should step in and protect children from unhealthy food marketing[i]. Regulations are urgently needed to protect children from pervasive food industry marketing tactics used to hook kids into consuming unhealthy foods and sugary drinks.

“Strong regulation of unhealthy food marketing may also encourage food manufacturers to produce and promote healthier products over unhealthy foods.”

Alarming statistics show nearly a quarter of Australian children are above a healthy weight. Unhealthy, nutrient poor foods contribute over a third of daily energy in Australian children’s diets, with the proportion increasing to 41% for school-aged children, 14 to 18 years.[ii]

Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation Director, Professor Anna Peeters added her support for comprehensive policy action to address obesity and improve population diets in Australia.

“Our Food Policy Index scorecard ranks Australia globally as making “low” progress on restricting the promotion of unhealthy foods in broadcast media, and “very little, if any” progress on online promotion,” Professor Peeters said.

“Countries like the UK have already moved to enact restrictions on junk food advertising. UK legislation that comes into effect in 2025 restricts unhealthy food advertising on TV prior to 9pm and implements a complete ban on paid advertising for foods high in fat, salt and sugar online.”

More than 35 organisations and 200 individuals support Food for Health Alliance’s Brands off our kids! campaign calling for governments to take four actions to protect Australian children from unhealthy food marketing. 

Sign up and support here.