Frequently Asked Questions

1 in 3 cancers are preventable.

We all know about the dangers of smoking and sun exposure. Evidence now shows that many cancer cases are caused by being overweight, eating too much red and processed meat and not enough fruit and vegetables. Find out more about our 1 in 3 Cancers campaign.

Currently, there is very limited government regulation of food marketing to children in Australia. Instead the food industry has developed a self-regulation system that is voluntary. Recent research has shown that these self-regulations are failing to protect our kids from harmful junk food marketing. Click on the links below for more information about each code.

Yes it is, but when we are bombarded by junk food marketing in every part of our lives it’s difficult to select healthy options. Parents know what’s best for their children but junk food advertisers use manipulative tactics to target kids, undermining parent’s efforts. Right now, junk food marketers decide themselves whether or not their advertising targets children. We believe that self-regulation does not work and needs to stop. Together we want to create an environment where parents can make decisions that are best for their kid’s health and wellbeing without the unhealthy influence of junk food advertising.

Marketers for junk food aren’t just selling a product, they’re sneakily targeting our kids and dominating our environment. Junk food marketers are setting our children up into becoming brand-loyal and life-long customers, leading them to a path of poor eating habits and long-term health problems. Our kids deserve the chance to grow into healthy adults.

Obesity is complex, however junk food advertising is one significant obstacle that is preventing our kids from developing healthy life-long habits. We live in an obesogenic environment that is dominated by junk food advertisers telling us to eat their food and undermining our ability as parents to guide our kids towards a path of health. The World Health Organisation identified junk food advertising restrictions as one of the most effective prevention interventions to reduce childhood obesity and help establish healthier habits for life.

Back when we were kids, the majority of advertising was during TV shows on Saturday. But now, junk food advertisers are reaching our kids on TV all day, every day. But it doesn’t stop there, our kids are being bombarded with sly marketing tactics in other areas of their life – on the way to school, at the shops, in recreation centres, through the sport they participate in and the sports teams they support, to name a few.

Most kids today have access to the online world via computers, iPads and smart phones. This trend has seen a growth in digital marketing. Junk food advertisers have seized the opportunity to gather valuable data that can be used to specifically target our kids. The more junk food advertising our kids are exposed to, the harder it is for them to develop healthy eating habits.

We believe that our kids should be free from the manipulation of junk food advertising. Currently the food industry is telling our children what to eat, setting them up for a lifetime of poor eating habits and poor health. We need to protect our kids and put a stop to this and make it easier to lead healthy lives.

It’s not working!  If you look around today you will still find lots of junk food ads targeting kids. Unfortunately, when you let the food industry decide their own guidelines, it’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.  At the end of the day, our kid’s health should come before junk food profits.

Food marketing on television, radio, print media (newspaper or magazines), cinemas, outdoor signs, websites and email are covered by several codes developed by the advertising and food industries. Complaints under these codes can be made to Ad Standards.  To make a complaint you will need to know where you saw the ad and what the ad was about and explain in your own words why you think the ad markets unhealthy food to children.

Alternatively tell us about any food marketing aimed at children you have seen and we will lodge a complaint on your behalf.

The current regulations rely on the public to complain. Without any complaints, the junk food advertisers can claim that their self-regulation system is working. The more complaints that Ad Standards receives, the more evidence there is that the regulations are failing to reduce the exposure of children to junk food marketing.

In the end we want to:

  • Protect our children against aggressive marketing tactics
  • Reduce ‘pester power’ which will help make your job easier as a parent
  • Let the junk food marketers know that it’s not OK to target children
  • Help reduce childhood overweight and obesity

Cancer Council NSW aims to reduce cancer in the NSW community by encouraging people to lead cancer-smart lifestyles. However, it’s difficult to make healthy food choices if our lives are dominated by advertisers telling us to eat their junk food. This is especially a concern for our children, as they are more vulnerable to marketing messages.

The majority of food marketing is for unhealthy products, such as sugary breakfast cereals, fast food and soft drinks. Research has shown that junk food marketing influences food preferences and increases pester power impacting the quality of a child’s diet and ultimately affecting their weight. The majority of overweight kids will become overweight adults, which significantly increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer including breast (post-menopause), bowel, kidney, liver, endometrial, ovarian, stomach, oesophagus, gallbladder, pancreas and prostate cancers.

Cancer Council NSW want to help parents take back the control from the junk food marketers. The more people that join us, the stronger we will be as a community to beat the high rates of childhood obesity and work towards a cancer-free future. Children deserve to be protected against the aggressive marketing of unhealthy food, together let’s tell them they are Our Kids, and it’s Our Call!

About one in four children in NSW have overweight or obesity which puts them at risk of preventable health conditions in the future. Children with obesity are over five times more likely to have obesity as adults.

Having obesity increases the risk of chronic disease, including 13 different cancers; making obesity prevention a priority area for Cancer Council NSW.

Restricting children’s exposure to junk food marketing has been identified internationally as a policy priority to reduce childhood obesity. It has been highlighted as one of the most cost-effective  strategies — that reaches the whole population — to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity; resulting in children’s health gains and health service savings.

Read more about the evidence as explained by Dr Jenny Norman and Associate Professor Bridget Kelly from University of Wollongong.

Overweight or obesity affects one in every four NSW children and a high proportion will go on to have excess body weight in adulthood; increasing the risk of cancer.

So what is the link between junk food marketing and increased risk of cancer?

Diagram showing link between junk food and cancer.

Food marketing influences children’s food preferences, encourages pestering for that food and even influences what they eat. Children are vulnerable and don’t fully understand advertising.

The majority of foods currently promoted are unhealthy and that contradicts and undermines healthy eating messages.  Children who eat these foods are more likely to have overweight, once weight is gained it’s difficult to lose and they are more likely to have overweight in adulthood putting them at risk of many cancers.

Restricting exposure to junk food ads is one of the most cost-effective strategies to reduce childhood obesity rates and decrease the risk of cancer in adulthood.

Take a stand for our kids