Children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising is contributing to increasing rates of childhood obesity. It influences their food choices, and can negatively influence their diets.

Evidence proves exposure to alcohol advertising influences young people’s attitudes to drinking. The amount that Australian kids are exposed to reinforces drinking as the cultural norm.

Facts & stats about unhealthy food & alcohol promotion to children


Reducing children's exposure to alcohol and unhealthy food advertising is an important step towards reducing the risk of harm from these factors.

The WHO's Global Action Plan for NCD Prevention and Control proposes member states implement the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity, including a set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children; and the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol, including policy options relating to the marketing of alcoholic beverages.

Australia's National Preventative Health Taskforce:

  • took 'the strong view that reducing the exposure of young people to alcohol promotions is an essential element in reducing alcohol-related harm in Australia' and recommended a staged approach to phasing out alcohol promotions from times and placements which have high exposure to young people aged up to 25 years.
  • found increasing international agreement that food advertising has a harmful influence on children's health because it affects children's diet and most advertising to children is for products high in salt, sugar and fat.
  • found it was vital for Australia to reduce children's exposure to advertising of unhealthy food and drink.

Public opinion

There is high public support for restrictions on alcohol and food advertising to limit children's exposure.

A 2012 Cancer Council Victoria study assessing public opinion on food-related obesity prevention policy initiatives found that:

  • Approximately 90% of adults surveyed were in favour of governmental restriction or regulation of unhealthy food advertising on television.
  • 83% of adults surveyed were in favour of a ban on advertising at times when children watch TV.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education's Annual Poll 2013 found that:

  • 69% of Australians believe that alcohol advertising and promotions influence the behaviour of people under 18 years.
  • 64% of Australians support a ban on alcohol advertising on weekdays and weekends before 8.30pm.

A Cancer Council Victoria 'Cancer Issues Population Survey'* found:

  • 77% approval for alcohol advertising restrictions to reduce exposure among people aged 18 and younger
  • 76% approval for restricting alcohol advertising on public transport
  • 68% approval for restricting alcohol advertising on outdoor billboards
  • 72% approval for restricting alcohol advertising at music and/or youth festivals

*The Cancer Issues Population Survey (CIPS) is a regular telephone survey of around 3000 over 18 year olds in Victoria, conducted by Cancer Council Victoria's Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer.


The Obesity Policy Coalition has released one of the most comprehensive investigations into Australia's self-regulatory system for food marketing ever undertaken.

Detailed analysis illustrates how the advertising codes that claim to protect children from junk food advertising have resolutely failed. Further, the report highlights the litany of loopholes being used by the processed food industry to continue to promote their products despite childhood obesity sitting at record levels.

Read the OPC report Exposing the Charade: The failure to protect children from unhealthy food advertising.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has published a major report which examines the evidence base linking alcohol marketing to harmful drinking patterns amongst young people, considers the failures of the current regulations around alcohol advertising, and outlines the a series of recommended actions in relation to alcohol advertising and promotion.

Read the AMA report Alcohol marketing and young people: time for a new policy agenda.

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB) recently published its first annual report, covering the year 2012-13. The report provides numerous examples of how the self-regulatory alcohol advertising system in Australia has consistently failed to prevent the exposure of children and young people to alcohol promotion, nor ensure that alcohol advertising and promotion are socially responsible.

Read the AARB 2012-13 Annual Report.