More than 10,000 people and community and health organisations have signed up to support Cancer Council Victoria’s Food Fight, calling to protect children from unhealthy food and drink advertising where they commute, learn, and play.
The statement has garnered support from organisations including VicHealth, Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Nutrition Australia, Parents’ Voice and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and calls for the removal of unhealthy food and drink advertising within 500 metres of schools and on public transport and public transport infrastructure (i.e. stations, platforms, stops and shelters).
This comes as new data shows spending on outdoor advertising (incl. on billboards, public transport, bus and tram stops) for unhealthy food and drinks in Victoria alone reached almost $10 million1, between April 2021 and February 2022.
Spending on advertising for unhealthy meals (incl. fast food meals from KFC, Hungry Jacks, McDonalds), desserts including ice-creams and iced-confectionary and sugary drinks made up the top 3 categories in this sector. The spend on unhealthy meals at $4.3 million was more than double that of both desserts ($1.865m) and sugary drinks ($1.863m).
Ms Jane Martin, Executive Manager Obesity Program at Cancer Council Victoria, said the sheer amount of spending highlighted the magnitude of the problem, and that there was an urgent need for governments to use their power to protect Victorian children from advertising by the processed food industry.
“The processed food industry is spending millions of dollars on advertising in public places, so our kids are surrounded by this on their routes to school, on public transport and as they go about their lives. Every day they are bombarded with at least 25 ads for unhealthy food and drink. We know it has an impact on what they eat, want to eat and ask for, and we should be doing everything in our power to protect them from this influence.2
“The community response to Food Fight is proof that thousands of Victorians feel the same and that protecting our kids from this harmful marketing should be a priority for government,” she said.
Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) CEO, Dr Sandro Demaio said VicHealth strongly supports the campaign and wants to see the health of our children put before the profits of the processed food industry.
“Over 60% of food and drink advertising on Melbourne’s public transport network and near schools is for unhealthy food and drink. Our kids are seeing this advertising everywhere they go and it’s having a serious impact on their diets and their future health.
“Removing this advertising around schools and on public transport would be an important first step to reducing the influence of the processed food industry on our kids and creating healthier environments for them to grow up in.”
Parent of three, Rebecca Zosel says this campaign is an important opportunity to stand up for our kids’ health.
“As a parent, I want my children to grow up in spaces that support their health and wellbeing, but this is impossible when they’re surrounded by unhealthy food and drink advertising everywhere they go.
“Meaningful action is needed to protect kids from unhealthy food and drink advertising. It’s time our kids’ health was put above profits.”
Cancer Council Victoria’s Food Fight campaign aims to raise awareness of the impact of unhealthy food and drink advertising on the diet and future health of children, with exposure to this advertising linked to unhealthy diets, putting children at risk of being above a healthy weight and an increased risk of cancer and other serious diseases later in life. To learn more about Food Fight and to sign up to support the campaign, visit the Food Fight microsite.
- Neilsen Advertising Expenditure Out of Home In Victoria 4/2021- 2/2022
- World Health Organization & United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). (2022). Protecting children from the harmful impact of food marketing: policy brief. World Health Organization. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/354606.