Publication Details

Hebden, L., King, L., Kelly, B. P., Chapman, K. & Innes-Hughes, C. 2010, 'Industry self-regulation of food marketing to children: reading the fine print', Health Promotion Journal of Australia, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 229-235.


Issue addressed: Despite the evidence showing the negative influences of food marketing on children’s dietary beliefs and behaviours, and risk of adiposity, regulatory action to limit unhealthy food marketing has made little progress within Australia. Our aim was to describe and critically examine the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC) approach to self-regulate food marketing to Australian children through the Responsible Marketing to Children Initiative (Initiative). Methods: The Initiative’s core principles and the commitments of the 16 signatory companies (as at December 2009) were assessed in terms of their capacity to limit unhealthy food advertising in media accessed by children. All information was publicly available from AFGC and signatory company websites (September-December 2009). Results: Limitations of the Initiative included inadequate definitions for when and where food marketing to children can occur, and permissive definitions of foods considered appropriate for advertising. The study also identified numerous examples of ongoing food marketing to children by AFGC companies that illustrate these limitations. Conclusions: Until one reads the fine print, the self-regulatory commitments of companies signed to the AFGC Initiative may appear to be responsible. However, this study shows that the commitments are permissive and allow companies to circumvent the stated intent of the Initiative. Key words: child, marketing, food, regulation, organisational policy.