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Industry self-regulation and TV advertising of foods to Australian children


  • Conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.



The aim of this study is to examine the amount of non-core (unhealthy) food advertising currently on Australian television (i) during children's programmes and viewing times; (ii) since the introduction of food industry self-regulatory initiatives in 2009; and (iii) whether advertising differs according to signatory status to industry initiatives.


We systematically searched PubMed, and JSTOR (media/marketing) databases; grey literature; and reference lists of relevant articles for studies published since 2009 that reported on food advertising on Australian television.


The title and abstract of 316 articles were screened, yielding 25 articles considered potentially eligible, of which eight met the pre-defined selection criteria. Meta-analysis was not possible because of temporal and methodological differences across studies. The advertising of non-core foods was found to be negligible during programmes with a C-(children's) classification but ranged from 1.5 to 6.5/h during children's peak viewing times. From 2006 to 2011, non-core food advertising decreased by 0.18 advertisements per hour every year, whereas fast food advertising increased by 0.09/h; however, these analyses are based on one study with only five time points. During children's viewing times, signatories to industry initiatives advertise non-core foods at higher rates than non-signatories.


Although it is not possible to determine whether advertising has changed since the industry initiatives were introduced, signatories to the initiatives continue to advertise non-core foods at times when many children watch television. Future efforts to reduce children's exposure to food advertising should be focused on advertising during children's peak viewing times rather than by programme classifications.