Health groups have used Easter, one of the most gluttonous days of the year, to call for restriction on junk food and alcohol advertising.
Mike Daube, president of the Public Health Association of Australia said self-regulated advertising codes had cost more than half a billion dollars spent promoting booze and burgers each year.
(The codes) completely ignore form of marketing like sports sponsorship through which children are exposed to alcohol and junk food promotion for hours on end, he said.
This is all the more disturbing at a time when the obesity epidemic is predicted to shorten the life spans of our children for the first time ever.
Prof Daube calls the government to draw up laws to enforce mandatory advertising codes on the promoters of unhealthy foods and drinks.
The alcohol and food industries will never agree to effective controls on their irresponsible promotions, said Prof Daube.
We urge all parties to make a commitment to legislation that will curb the ruthless way young people are being exposed to promotion of alcohol and junk food.
Prof Daube referred to the suggestion to impose a levy on alcohol and junk food advertising to help promote healthier products, mentioned in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Todd Harper, co-author of the paper published in the journal, also a chief executive of VicHealth said companies should have to pay into a pool every time they promote their products.
Money raised can be used for new array of public health messages, as there is little or any information on health at all carried by the current fast food and alcohol ads.
The funding could also be used to provide alternative to junk food and alcohol sponsorships and to inform consumers about healthier food and beverage products, said Mr Harper.
An obesity intervention wish list outlined in another paper in the journal's latest edition, calls for a ban on all junk food advertising, plus new taxes, and a cap on the number of fast food restaurants.
Dr Bebe Loff, director of the Michael Kirby Centre for Public Health at Melbourne's Monash University, said the scale of the problem ensured that isolated public health campaigns would do little to slow the so-called obesity epidemic.
Dr Loff said Australia needed structural reform of the vastly altered market in food that has developed over recent decades.
She also had a message for free marketers who automatically criticize any call for a tax on junk food.
Those concerned by our wish list's 'nanny state' implications might helpfully redirect their focus to the many unseen measures intentionally adopted by the food industry to shape our behaviour.
It seems that without our knowledge or consent we are subjected to the pervasive nannying activities of industry.
The wish list proposes the government to place a ban on all forms of marketing of energy-dense and nutrient-poor (EDNP) foods, a redesign of supermarkets to make way for healthier foods, and introduce kilojoule caps for certain foods.
It also calls for less enticing packaging design of ENDP foods that are less amenable to bulk purchase. New planning laws are also needed to control the number of fast food outlets.
A call for a subsidization of fruits and vegetables is also needed from money of new taxes applied on EDNP foods and a redirection of current subsidies to processed food industries.