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. From an early age, children’s exposure to advertising influences their preferences, purchasing and eating habits. The widespread advertising of unhealthy foods and drinks is strongly linked to high child obesity rates. 25% of Australian children and adolescents were overweight or obese in the latest data from 2017–18.
Dental decay is also a major concern and remains the most common chronic childhood disease in Australia. Poor dental health has the potential to negatively impact a child’s ability to eat, speak, sleep and socialise, which may adversely affect them later in life.
Australian governments have no formal standards to protect children from unhealthy food and beverage marketing. Instead, the processed food and advertising industries have been allowed to design their own codes for how they market unhealthy diets to children.
One of the common behavioural changes among children is elevated sedentary screen time, with increased screen time typically equating to increased exposure to unhealthy food and beverage marketing. Australian children aged 13-17 years are now exposed to almost 100 online promotions of unhealthy food and beverages every week.