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The impact of industry self-regulation on television marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to Australian children

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Could recent initiatives in industry self-regulation be missing the mark?

Across the world, reports by reputable scientific organisations have concluded that food marketing influences the types of foods that children want to eat, children’s requests for food purchases and, ultimately, the foods that children consume.1 This type of evidence led to the National Preventative Health Taskforce’s recommendation to target food marketing to children as part of Australia’s strategy for tackling overweight and obesity.2

In 2009, industry groups introduced two voluntary initiatives to demonstrate their commitment to socially responsible marketing of foods to children: the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) and the Quick Service Restaurant Industry Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children. Signatories to these initiatives commit to refrain from advertising food and beverage products to children unless they represent healthy dietary choices (as per scientific or government standards), and the advertising message is in the context of a healthy lifestyle that incorporates good dietary habits and physical activity. We recently reviewed Australian studies to better…