The Obesity Policy Coalition will today launch the first Australian plan for legislation that offers real protection for children from unhealthy food advertising - one of the key drivers of childhood obesity.
The OPC's evidence-based blueprint, which has been presented to the State and Federal Governments, explains how different types of advertising should be restricted (including TV advertising during peak children's viewing times), and proposes definitions of key terms, such as ‘unhealthy food' and advertising ‘directed to children'.
As well as overwhelming public support for reform, the initiatives in the blueprint have been endorsed by the Australian Medical Association, the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance together with a host of other public health organisations*.
"The Federal Government has given industry a chance to clean up their act, but self-regulation has proven to be a complete failure," said Senior Policy Adviser for the OPC, Jane Martin.
"Our analysis indicates the current system of self-regulation is utterly ineffective in protecting children from being the target of junk food advertisers.
"In fact it allows junk food companies to advertise during the highest rating children's TV programs. It also permits them to use websites and Facebook, free toys, competitions and sports sponsorship as marketing tools to reach kids, as well as obtaining children's contact details and marketing directly to them via email, SMS or mail.
"Australian consumers have had enough of junk food companies marketing unhealthy food to children. New Cancer Council research released today found nearly 60% of grocery buyers1 nominated TV advertising or toy giveaways as having the biggest impact on their children asking for an unhealthy food product," said Ms Martin.
The research found that 83% of grocery buyers want the government to step in and ban this type of advertising at times when children watch TV. The majority of respondents (95%) who support a ban would like to see it implemented on TV from at least 4pm to 9:30pm.
The OPC would like to see the Federal Government tackle this as a national issue, however, legislation could be implemented at a state level if the Federal Government fails to act.
"Implementation of this proposal by federal and state governments would be a hugely important step towards decreasing children's exposure to junk food marketing and reducing the burden of obesity in this country."
The Obesity Policy Coalition partners include Diabetes Australia - Vic, Cancer Council Victoria, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University.