The Latest


Dr Emma Boyland


Cancer Council recently held a seminar featuring UK researcher in appetite and obesity Dr Emma Boyland. Dr Boyland showed examples of how our food environment makes it easy to choose and consume unhealthy foods and advertising reinforces preferences and demands for unhealthy foods.

There has been regulation of advertising to children in UK for many years and while this has meant there has been a decrease in food ads on children’s channels, there has been an increase in food ads in sports, family and music channels where the regulation doesn’t cover. Interestingly the researchers found an increase in depictions of physical activity across all channel types between 2008 and 2010, with the highest increase found on children’s channels. Is this because food advertisers are deliberately trying to offset junk food consumption with physical activity? There was also an increase in links to websites, especially on children’s channels, allowing opportunity for further marketing via advergames and social networking.

Regulation of advertising to children on television as has been in place in the UK for 8 years would be a positive first step in Australia, although we could improve our regulation by learning from the UK experience of some of the loopholes.


Dr Bridget Kelly

Dr Bridget Kelly


At our recent seminar on tackling food marketing to children, Dr Bridget Kelly spoke about studies she has carried out showing the effects on children of exposure to food advertising.




In one study of 10-16 year olds investigating food habits and television viewing they found a link between the number of hours of commercial television viewed per week and the amount of unhealthy food or drink consumed. This effect was not seen if children skipped the ads.

Dr Kelly also showed us a sneak preview of a study looking at the effect of brand exposure on familiarity and beliefs about brands.

This important research reinforces the importance of protecting children from unhealthy food marketing.