Self-Regulation of Food Advertising to Children: An Effective Tool for Improving the Food Marketing Environment?

Monash University Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 419-457, 2016

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 17/16

40 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017  

Belinda Reeve

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

Australia has high rates of childhood obesity, with approximately a quarter of Australian children being overweight or obese. While a range of factors contributes to weight gain, health and consumer advocates have raised concerns about the effect of unhealthy food advertising on children’s diets. In 2008 the Australian food industry responded to these concerns by introducing two voluntary codes on food marketing to children. This paper examines whether the codes establish the building blocks of an effective self-regulatory regime, in light of research suggesting that the initiatives have not significantly reduced children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing. The paper finds that the substantive terms of the codes contain a number of loopholes, and that regulatory processes lack transparency and accountability. Further, revisions to the codes have done little to improve their operation or to expand their reach. Drawing upon the theory of responsive regulation, the paper concludes by setting out a phased regulatory strategy that aims to strengthen government leadership in food industry self-regulation, with the objective of protecting children more effectively from exposure to unhealthy food marketing.

Keywords: Food advertising, self-regulation, childhood obesity, responsive regulation

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32

Suggested Citation

Reeve, Belinda, Self-Regulation of Food Advertising to Children: An Effective Tool for Improving the Food Marketing Environment? (2016). Monash University Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 419-457, 2016; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 17/16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2921713

Belinda Reeve (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

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

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