31 July 2018

Overbranded, underprotected: How industry self-regulation is failing to protect our children from unhealthy food marketing

This report analyses how the current regulatory system fails to protect children from the marketing of unhealthy food and what needs to be done to improve the system. Substantial evidence shows that marketing influences children’s food preferences and consumption, contributing to overweight and obesity. The Australian Government uses a complex system of self-regulatory codes which allow the food and advertising industries to set their own rules for marketing unhealthy food to children. This self-regulation does not protect children from unhealthy food marketing. Rather, the food industry’s ultimate goal of increasing profits by selling more food products is in clear conflict with the public health goal of improving diets and encouraging people to avoid unhealthy food. The authors argue that given the current obesity crisis and associated costs, the government cannot afford to continue to leave regulation of unhealthy food marketing in the hands of industry. Furthermore, they maintain that children’s future health is too important to allow the current system to continue.