Junk food advertising under scrutiny again as teal MP Dr Sophie Scamps pushes for ban

Junk food advertising has again come under scrutiny as a bill to restrict it from TV and radio for most of the day will be introduced to the parliament on Monday by teal MP, Dr Sophie Scamps.

The bill, known as The Healthy Kids Advertising Bill 2023, is looking to remove junk food ads on TV and radio between 6am and 9.30pm. Additionally, the bill will also look to ban junk food marketing on social media and other online environments altogether.

Dr Sophie Scamps

Under the proposed regulations, broadcasters, internet service providers, and food companies that fail to adhere to the guidelines will be met with substantial fines.

However, the bill does not cover print or outdoor advertising, sports sponsorship, nor content shared by food and beverage companies on their own websites and social media channels.

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.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

On a state level, Queensland announced in 2019 that it will ban junk food and alcohol ads at government-owned outdoor sites in an effort to combat childhood obesity.

However, the previous Morrison Government had said that there were no plans for a junk food ad ban on a federal level, commenting that “advertising that promotes lawful products and services should not be unduly restricted.”

The bill is supported by fellow independent MP Dr Monique Ryan, and organisations including the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Dietitians Australia, the Cancer Council, the Food for Health Alliance and the Public Health Association of Australia. It is said to have been developed in consultation with public health and marketing experts across Australia.

Dr Scamps said that over 40 countries around the world already have regulations in place for junk food advertising and that she wants to “see Australia join this list”.

“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.

“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.”

In other areas, the government is also under pressure to introduce stricter regulations on online betting ads via a recent parliamentary inquiry. In the media industry, The Guardian is one publisher that took the leap and will now refuse all gambling ad revenue.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.