Why is Cancer Council NSW interested in food marketing?

Obesity is a risk factor for 11 cancers, including cancers of the breast (post-menopausal), stomach, bowel, liver, endometrium, gallbladder, oesophagus, pancreas, kidney, prostate (advanced) and ovary. Around 80% of overweight children will become overweight adults, so preventing weight gain in children is very important. This makes childhood overweight and obesity a key priority area for Cancer Council NSW.

The causes of overweight are various. The principle behind maintaining a healthy weight is to balance the energy that you put into your body (as food) with the energy that you burn up (as physical activity).

Many factors make it difficult for people to maintain this balance between food and physical activity, including the environment in which we live. Unhealthy food marketing is one such environmental factor that contributes to our “obesogenic” or obesity-promoting environment. Several international reviews show that food marketing influences children’s food preferences, the food that they request from their parents and ultimately the food that they eat.

Concerns about food marketing
Children’s dietary choices have a long-term effect on their health.

Children’s constant exposure to unhealthy food in the media normalises these unhealthy foods, so that high fat, high sugar and high salt foods become an accepted part of their everyday diet. These foods tip the balance between food intake and physical activity so that more energy is taken in than is used up. Over time this imbalance can lead to weight gain.