A bill seeking to limit junk food advertising was introduced to Parliament today.
Independent MP Dr Sophie Scamps is seeking to ban junk food promotion on TV, radio, and streaming services between 6am and 9:30pm. The bill would also ban paid marketing of junk food online (including on social media).
Scamps argues the move would help combat the “increasing prevalence” of childhood obesity, but the government is unlikely to support the bill.
Current regulations around junk food advertising in Australia
There are currently few legal restrictions on junk food advertising in Australia.
At present, the government media regulator limits food ads during children’s TV programming, but ads in other contexts are restricted only by a voluntary, self-imposed food industry code. That code prevents advertisers from misleading claims about the nutritional value of any food and limits any food advertising that directly targets children.
Deakin University’s Food Policy Index, which ranks healthy food promotion policies around the world, suggests Australia is behind global standards.
Junk food and health
Around one in four Australian children aged 5-14 are overweight or obese, according to the latest government figures.
Dr Scamps claims there is “a direct link” between junk food advertising and childhood obesity. “Regulating junk food adverts on our TV screens and in our social media feeds will have a direct impact on the dietary decisions of Australians – including our kids,” Dr Scamps said.
The proposal would cover a variety of ‘junk’ foods including fast food, snacks, confectionery and sugary drinks.
The Government is not expected to support Dr Scamps’ bill, which means it will not pass.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, who is responsible for regulating advertising, has defended the industry’s self-imposed code and noted this code is currently under review.
“Marketing, advertising and media platforms need to respect community standards and act responsibly,” Rowland told TDA.