Independent MP for Mackellar Dr Sophie Scamps tabled a Private Members Bill which would see a ban and time restrictions placed on junk food marketing on TV, radio, social media, and other online environments.
The Healthy Kids Advertising Bill 2023 (the Bill) aims to protect children from junk food marketing by removing ads from TV and radio between the hours of 6am and 930pm. The Bill would also place an outright ban on junk food marketing on social media and other online environments. Under the regulations, substantial fines would be imposed on broadcasters, internet service providers, and food companies that fail to adhere to the guidelines.
Dr Scamps, a former GP and emergency room doctor, said she was compelled to act due to the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity and chronic disease, with obesity estimated to cost the health system $11.8 billion every year. Dr Scamps also said a large number of parents in her Mackellar electorate had raised concerns about the predatory targeting of their children by junk food companies.
“Right now a quarter of our children are already on the path to chronic disease because they are over the healthy weight range” said Dr Scamps MP.
“We know our children are exposed to over 800 junk food ads on TV alone every year, and that there is a direct link between those ads and childhood obesity. The current restrictions are not strong enough, and self-regulation is just not working.”
“If we continue to stand by while children are deluged by junk food advertising on social media and on TV, then we are failing them,” said Dr Scamps MP.
The Bill will be seconded by Independent MP and former paediatrician Dr Monique Ryan, and also has the support of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dietitians Australia, the Cancer Council, the Food for Health Alliance, the Public Health Association of Australia, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), and the Heart Foundation.
Research conducted by the Australia Institute earlier in late 2022 also shows strong public support for regulating unhealthy food marketing, with two-thirds (66%) backing a ban on junk food advertising.
“Approximately 40 countries around the world, including the UK, Ireland, Chile, Norway, Mexico, Thailand, and South Korea, already have or are planning to regulate junk food advertising. I want to see Australia join this list,” said Dr. Scamps MP.
“At a time when our health system is under strain, investing in preventative health measures to combat the rising cost of chronic disease is plain common sense. The National Obesity Strategy found obesity costs our health system $11.8 billion every year and this figure will only grow if nothing is done.”
“I’ve been heartened by conversations I’ve had with members of the Albanese Government as well as public comments made by the Communications Minister and believe there is genuine political will to address this issue. Protecting our children from obesity and a potential future of chronic disease is something all sides of politics can get behind.”
“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 – and can help both reduce childhood obesity and the incidence of chronic diseases,” said Dr Scamps MP.
Dr Scamps’ Bill has been developed in consultation with public health and marketing experts from across the country. It does not cover print or outdoor advertising, sport sponsorship, nor content shared by food and beverage companies on their own websites and social media channels.
The fact sheet can be found here.
Media release provided by Dr Sophie Scamps, 19th June 2023