For many years Cancer Council has been calling on the NSW Government to remove unhealthy food marketing from places they control like buses, trains and train stations. In the past year, we bolstered our advocacy efforts by joining forces with 13 other organisations and experts to produce a joint statement to the NSW Government. The new alliance includes NSW branches of peak health bodies, the Australian Medical Association, Australian Dental Association, Public Health Association of Australia and Heart Foundation.
Besides partnering with experts in the field, we have also demonstrated the importance of this issue within our community. We kicked off our public ‘Our Kids, Our Call’ petition and already have over 4,500 signatures.
This strong community support is also reflected in the results of our survey, conducted in February 2022. Over 71% of respondents expressed their concern about outdoor advertisements, such as billboards and posters, for unhealthy foods. On top of this, 70% of respondents indicated that they support restrictions on unhealthy food advertising that targets children and, 60% supported restrictions on unhealthy food and drink advertising on government-owned property.
1 in 5
advertisements that children see on public transport in NSW promote unhealthy food.
of people are concerned about outdoor advertisments for unhealthy foods.
of people support restrictions on unhealthy food advertising which targets children.
We’re guided by the evidence
Our ongoing campaign to remove unhealthy food marketing from NSW Government-owned and operated properties is guided by significant evidence-based research.
First, food marketing has been found to significantly influence children’s food choices and eating habits. These advertising messages undermine parents’ efforts to set their kids on a path towards good health. This means our children are at increased risk of developing chronic health conditions (such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many cancers) as adults.
Second, unhealthy food marketing is everywhere. In our 2022 study, we found that food advertisements made up a quarter of total advertisements on buses, and 83% were for unhealthy food or drink. Most food advertisements promoted sugary drinks, pies, burgers, and fried chicken and very few were for healthy options.
The pervasive impact of unhealthy food marketing on children has been recognised by the World Health Organization and in the National Obesity Strategy released in March 2022. The latter specifically identifies removing unhealthy food advertising on government owned and operated property as an effective action to protect children.
We’re asking for action at the 2023 NSW State Government Election
For the NSW State Election in March 2023, we are calling on the NSW Government to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing by removing unhealthy food advertising on state owned or controlled assets, starting with public transport.
Our children deserve the best chance to grow into healthy adults. The government must show leadership by supporting families to raise healthy kids and cease taking money from unhealthy food advertising.
This action supports existing programs funded by the NSW Government to address poor diets and obesity rates and is timely given the impact of COVID-19 on the NSW population and the increased risk posed by COVID-19 to those living with obesity.