Federal Government Opens Consultation on Feasibility Study for Limiting Unhealthy Food Marketing to Children

The Federal Department of Health and Aged Care has engaged a project team led by the University of Wollongong to deliver a feasibility study on options to limit unhealthy food marketing to children. Recommendations will be provided to Government for consideration by mid-2024.

Information about the project and the consultation paper are available here and the closing date for comments is 15 March.

The feasibility study will provide a better understanding of the options available to limit such marketing, including relevant costs and benefits, feasibility, acceptability, impact on priority populations and monitoring and evaluation implications. The work is supported by the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030, National Obesity Strategy 2022-2032 and the National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030, which all include restricting unhealthy food marketing to children as a policy goal.

Australians’ diets are currently sub-optimal, with the majority of people consuming inadequate amounts of core foods and too many discretionary foods. This has negative impacts on population health, including through increased rates of overweight and obesity and a range of associated chronic diseases.

Exposure to marketing for unhealthy foods and drinks can influence food choices and dietary intake. This is especially true in childhood, when children are forming food habits and marketing can be a powerful socialisation agent. Current measures to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing in Australia are predominantly industry-led and voluntary in nature, with minimal regulatory protections in place.  

The consultation paper has been informed by literature reviews on:

1) the nature and extent of Australian children’s exposure to food marketing;

2) the impact of this marketing on children’s diet-related outcomes;

3) the national and international regulatory landscape governing marketing practices for food and other commodities; and

4) the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of food marketing policies.