Independent Teal to sue McDonalds, KFC and Hungry Jacks – as it seeks to ban junk food advertising targeting children
- Dr Sohpie Scamps won Mackellar’s seat in the March federal election
- Former GP wants to re-examine how fast food is advertised to children
- She is working on a bill that could propose her banning sports and prime time television
The burgers, soft drinks and candy bars that have graced primetime screens for years could be banned under a newly elected politician’s advertising plan.
Dr Sophie Scamps gave up her job as a general practitioner on Sydney’s northern beaches for an office in Parliament after riding a wave of support for Teal during the federal election in March.
Independent MP for Mackellar aims to tackle Australia’s obesity epidemic and is working on a private member’s bill to ban prime time junk food advertising and sponsorship of sports teams .
“Advertising that targets kids, during the times kids are watching TV, at their sporting events, all of those things need to be looked at. They can be changed,” Dr Scamps told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Prime time fast food adverts are in the sights of a newly elected MP (stock image)
Who are the Teals?
The so-called Teals are a coalition of independents who snatched several key seats from the incumbent Liberal Party government in the 2022 federal election.
Backed by multi-millionaire Simon Holmes à Court, the Teals campaigned hard on climate policy and other social issues in wealthy inner-city constituencies.
A total of nine Teal candidates won seats in parliament.
One of the biggest outlets for fast food advertising dollars is sports – both at school and professionally.
KFC has been synonymous with Australian cricket for decades, while Hungry Jack recently renewed its naming rights to the NBL.
Similarly, McDonald’s has just renewed its partnership with the AFL for another 10 years and funds hundreds of grassroots sports clubs, as well as Little Athletics in New South Wales.
While the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness estimates around a quarter of Australian children are overweight and 10 per cent obese, critics suggest that junk food advertising could be hampering the transmission of sport’s healthy message to young people. children.
‘We have the choice. Either we are looking at prevention or we are starting to radically expand our hospital systems now to deal with this chronic disease burden,” Dr. Scamps said.
Dr Sophie Scamps (pictured) wants to introduce a bill to limit junk food advertising on TV and in sport
Under the advertising industry’s self-regulating codes, fast food (pictured) images may be shown during blocks of programming specifically aimed at children, but prime time is acceptable.
She compared it to the ban on tobacco advertising that swept the sport in the 1980s.
The federal government has the power to impose such a blanket ban on advertising, but prefers to let the industry police itself through its set of official codes on advertising standards.
This code states that sports sponsorship is acceptable – as long as only the company logo appears and images of the food or drink in question are never displayed.
Nor can ‘junk food’ be advertised during children’s programming blocks – but is suitable for prime time when children can watch with adults and is even more of a gray area online.
The previous government’s National Obesity Strategy – a plan to tackle the problem that appears to have been shelved before the federal election – said children were exposed to an average of more than 820 junk food advertisements each year.
Dr Scamps said a reduction in the advertisements children see would have a positive effect on their health and translate directly into a reduction in ‘power to nag’.
McDonalds has been an integral part of school and community sport for decades, but Dr Scamps said ‘all of those things need to be looked at’
HEALTHY WEIGHT IN CHILDREN
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing long-term health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, while being underweight can also be a risk factor for health of some people.
Almost a quarter (24.9%) of children aged 5-17 in Australia were overweight or obese in 2017-2018 (17% overweight and 8.1% obese).
The rates were similar for boys and girls and this has remained stable over the past ten years.
Among adolescents, there was a large increase for those aged 18-24, with 38.9% overweight or obese in 2014-2015, up from 46.0% in 2017-2018.
Source: Australian Government ABS data.