Skip to main content
Stay updated

Diabetes Inquiry shows the need to strengthen food policy to protect young people

Inquiry calls for urgent protections

4 Jul 2024
Media Release 2 min read
Two young people in the kitchen laughing while cooking healthy food

VicHealth welcomes the strong policy calls outlined in the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Diabetes to protect kids from unhealthy food marketing and create a healthier food system.


We back in the Inquiry’s recommendations to the Australian Government, including:

  • Protecting children from unhealthy food marketing on television, radio, gaming and online
  • Ensuring Australia is food secure by providing equitable access to food
  • Increasing physical activity through more inclusive and accessible neighbourhoods in local communities

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said the recommendations highlight the need to embed stronger regulations on food policy to combat companies exploiting children through harmful marketing and misleading packaging.

“All parents want their kids to grow up happy and healthy. It’s important that we live in an environment supporting people to eat healthy.

“But we know marketing for unhealthy food is reaching kids at a very young age. Many food companies deliberately target kids with their advertising because they know it creates pester power and creates consumers for life.

“We need to hold processed food companies to account by ensuring honest and transparent front-of-packet labelling and restrict deceptive and persistent unhealthy food marketing so it’s easier for families to choose healthy foods.

“These recommendations highlight the need to embed stronger regulation on food policy,” Dr Demaio said.

VicHealth also backs calls in the reports from health experts for a mandatory Health Star Rating system, allowing families to easily compare products and choose healthier food at the supermarket.

Requiring a Health Star Rating on packaged foods and beverages will help Australians in selecting healthier options. The existing voluntary system is not universally adopted across all products, leading to inconsistent health information for shoppers in supermarkets.

Currently, only 1 in 3 products carry a Health Star Rating. This is far below the 6 in 10 target set for 2024 by the Health Star Rating system.

“Reading food labels and ingredients lists is really difficult – you almost need a science degree to be able to understand what’s in some food products,” Dr Demaio said.

“A mandatory Health Star rating system would allow families to quickly and easily choose healthy foods. Not all marketing claims that are displayed on the front of food packaging are regulated, so it can be hard to know what’s advertising spin and what’s fact.”

To read all the Diabetes Inquiry recommendations, visit the Parliament of Australia website.


Media Contact:

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
This website may contain images, names and voices of deceased people.

VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.