Conclusion - The Food Pyramid Meets the Regulatory Pyramid: Responsive Regulation of Food Advertising to Children

10 Pages Posted: 5 May 2015

See all articles by Belinda Reeve

Belinda Reeve

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: May 4, 2015


This chapter forms part of a thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of a PhD from the Faculty of Law, University of Sydney.

This chapter describes the key findings of the thesis, namely that the RCMI and QSRI contain numerous escape clauses in their substantive terms and conditions, with the effect that the initiatives contain weak standards that apply to only very little food advertising viewed by children. Furthermore, the initiatives fail to meet the criteria for effective design of self-regulation, as they are not accompanied by systematic, independent monitoring, nor are they adequately enforced, and they lack transparency and accountability to external stakeholders. There are also institutional constraints that limit the industry’s ability to adopt a more rigorous scheme, including the diverse and complex nature of food products, and a lack of economic incentives for companies to join the RCMI and QSRI. In light of these findings, the chapter argues that there are strong grounds for government intervention in self-regulation of food advertising to children. It proposes that the codes be strengthened progressively through the use of regulatory ‘scaffolds’, resulting in a more co-regulatory scheme. However, a key step is that the government clearly communicates to industry that it is willing to introduce more coercive forms of regulation if an improved voluntary scheme fails to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food advertising. This responsive approach allows government to navigate the barriers to direct, statutory regulation of industry, while also enabling it to fulfil its responsibility to protect the public’s health.

Keywords: Food advertising, self-regulation, public health, governance, regulation, responsive regulation

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Reeve, Belinda, Conclusion - The Food Pyramid Meets the Regulatory Pyramid: Responsive Regulation of Food Advertising to Children (May 4, 2015). Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/44, Available at SSRN:

Belinda Reeve (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006

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