Governing childhood obesity: Framing regulation of fast food advertising in the Australian print media

Julie Henderson, John Coveney, Paul Ward, Anne Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Childhood obesity is widely constructed as reaching epidemic proportions with consumption of fast food viewed as a contributing factor. This paper analyses media reporting of the regulation of fast food consumption to children. A media search of five Australian newspapers for the period January 2006 to June 2008 elicited 100 articles relating to the regulation of fast food advertising to children. Content and thematic analysis of the articles reveal conflicting perspectives on the role of the state; the level of accountability of the food and advertising industries; and responsibilities of parents for regulating fast food consumption in children. The Federal Government, food and advertising industries and free to air broadcasters favour industry self-regulation and personal responsibility for fast food consumption while the proponents of government regulation include consumer groups, state government health ministers, nutrition and public health academics and medical and health foundations. The regulation of fast food advertising to children is discussed in relation to ideas about governance and the public health strategies which follow from these ideas. The paper argues that all proposed solutions are indicative of a neoliberal approach to the governance of health insofar as the responsibility for regulation of food marketing is viewed as lying with industry and the regulation of lifestyle risk is viewed as an individual responsibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402-1408
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Children
  • Fast food advertising
  • Governance
  • Governmentality
  • Media analysis
  • Obesity
  • Public health
  • Regulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Governing childhood obesity: Framing regulation of fast food advertising in the Australian print media'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this