Restrict marketing of unhealthy diets
6. Restrict marketing of unhealthy diets to children and young people through regulation
Mandatory regulations should be introduced to restrict the marketing of unhealthy diets to children and young people. The widespread advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks is strongly linked to high child obesity rates. From an early age, children’s exposure to advertising influences their preferences, purchasing and eating habits.
Australian governments have no formal standards that protect children from unhealthy food marketing. Instead, the processed food and advertising industries have been allowed to design their own codes for how they market unhealthy food to children. Australian children aged 13-17 years are exposed to almost 100 online promotions of unhealthy food every week.
In 2017–18, one in four children aged 5–17 years were overweight or obese. COVID-19 has amplified the impacts of obesity, with the lockdowns and economic impacts making it more difficult for children and young people to manage their health and weight and to receive treatment. School closures and other COVID-19 restrictions have disrupted the routines of children and young people, leading to changes in their eating behaviours, screen behaviours, physical activity and sleep.