VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said the new code does not reflect the evidence nor go far enough to stop unhealthy food industries from marketing their products to young children.
“Fast food advertising is rampant and incessant, and research shows it leads to kids wanting and eating more unhealthy food. I’m concerned a voluntary code will not protect kids from unhealthy food and drink marketing,” Dr Demaio said.
“For a start a 150-metre limit is not far enough – the evidence shows that setting a 400-metre zone free from unhealthy food marketing around schools is the best way to reduce exposure and protect kids.
“We also know that a high number of school students travel to school on public transport, which is why it’s critical our bus and tram stops and train stations are also free from unhealthy food and drink marketing.
“While a welcome first step, this policy is voluntary and not enforced, and in reality does nothing to stop fast food and sugary drink giants from paying for billboards advertising their unhealthy products to be put up around schools.
“We’re calling for government to protect our kids from the predatory tactics of unhealthy industries through mandatory regulation restricting unhealthy food and drink marketing within a 400-metre zone around schools.
“Unhealthy food and drink companies spend millions on advertising, promotions and sponsorships because it leads to more kids and teenagers eating their unhealthy products.
“It’s time we put our kids’ health above the profits of the unhealthy food industry.”
Around a quarter of Australian children and teenagers are above a healthy weight
80% of food advertising within 500 metres of primary schools was for unhealthy foods and drinks
More than 50 per cent of secondary students in Australia report seeing an offer for unhealthy food on public transport in the past month
Most food marketing that is directed towards children is for unhealthy products high in sugar, salt and saturated fat