Skip to main content

Sydney Principles’ for reducing the commercial promotion of foods and beverages to children

  • Boyd Swinburn (a1), Gary Sacks (a1), Tim Lobstein (a2), Neville Rigby (a2), Louise A Baur (a3), Kelly D Brownell (a4), Tim Gill (a5), Jaap Seidell (a6) and Shiriki Kumanyika (a7)...

A set of seven principles (the ‘Sydney Principles’) was developed by an International Obesity Taskforce (IOTF) Working Group to guide action on changing food and beverage marketing practices that target children. The aim of the present communication is to present the Sydney Principles and report on feedback received from a global consultation (November 2006 to April 2007) on the Principles.

The Principles state that actions to reduce marketing to children should: (i) support the rights of children; (ii) afford substantial protection to children; (iii) be statutory in nature; (iv) take a wide definition of commercial promotions; (v) guarantee commercial-free childhood settings; (vi) include cross-border media; and (vii) be evaluated, monitored and enforced.

The draft principles were widely disseminated and 220 responses were received from professional and scientific associations, consumer bodies, industry bodies, health professionals and others. There was virtually universal agreement on the need to have a set of principles to guide action in this contentious area of marketing to children. Apart from industry opposition to the third principle calling for a statutory approach and several comments about the implementation challenges, there was strong support for each of the Sydney Principles. Feedback on two specific issues of contention related to the age range to which restrictions should apply (most nominating age 16 or 18 years) and the types of products to be included (31 % nominating all products, 24 % all food and beverages, and 45 % energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and beverages).

The Sydney Principles, which took a children’s rights-based approach, should be used to benchmark action to reduce marketing to children. The age definition for a child and the types of products which should have marketing restrictions may better suit a risk-based approach at this stage. The Sydney Principles should guide the formation of an International Code on Food and Beverage Marketing to Children.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Sydney Principles’ for reducing the commercial promotion of foods and beverages to children
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Sydney Principles’ for reducing the commercial promotion of foods and beverages to children
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Sydney Principles’ for reducing the commercial promotion of foods and beverages to children
      Available formats
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email
Hide All
1. Lobstein T, Kestens M & Logstrup S (2006) Policy options to prevent child obesity: Stakeholder consultations carried out in the context of the project on children, obesity and associated chronic diseases. (accessed December 2007).
2.Millstone E & Lobstein T (2007) The PorGrow project: overall cross-national results, comparisons and implications. Obes Rev 8, Suppl. 2, 2936.
3. Eurobarometer (2006) Health and Food. Special Eurobarometer 246, Wave 64.3, TNS Opinion & Social. (accessed December 2007).
4. World Health Organization (2006) European Charter on counteracting obesity. WHO European Ministerial Conference on Counteracting Obesity, Istanbul, 15–17 November 2006. (accessed December 2007).
5. World Health Organization 2007 Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases: implementation of the global strategy. Sixtieth World Health Assembly, Resolution WHA60.23, Geneva, 23 May 2007. (accessed December 2007).
6. United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition (2007) Joint Working Groups Statement on ‘The human right of children and adolescents to adequate food and to be free from obesity and related diseases: the responsibilities of food and beverage corporations and related media and marketing industries’ issued by the Working Groups on Nutrition throughout the Life Cycle and Nutrition, Ethics and Human Rights, Rome, 26 February–5 March 2007. (accessed December 2007).
7. Hawkes C (2007) Marketing food to children: changes in the global regulatory environment 2004–2006. (accessed December 2007).
8.Institute of Medicine (2006) Food Marketing to Children and Youth. Threat or Opportunity?. Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences.
9.Escalante de Cruz A (editor) (2004) The Junk Food Generation: A Multi-country Survey of the Influence of Television Advertisements on Children. Kuala Lumpur: Consumers International Asia Pacific Office.
10.Hastings G, Stead M, McDermott L, Forsyth A, MacKintosh A, Raynor M, Godfrey C, Caraher M & Angus K (2003) Review of the Research on the Effects of Food Promotion to Children. Glasgow: Centre for Social Marketing, University of Strathclyde.
11.Dalmeny K (2003) Food marketing: the role of advertising in child health. Consumer Policy Rev 13, 27.
12.Dibb S (1996) A Spoonful of Sugar: Television Food Advertising Aimed at Children. An International Comparative Survey. London: Consumers International Programme for Developed Economies.
13. World Health Organization (WHO) Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. (accessed December 2007).
14.Haby MM, Vos T, Carter R, Moodie M, Markwick A, Magnus A, Tay-Teo KS & Swinburn B (2006) A new approach to assessing the health benefit from obesity interventions in children and adolescents: the assessing cost-effectiveness in obesity project. Int J Obes (Lond) 30, 14631475.
15.Hawkes C (2007) Regulating and litigating in the public interest: regulating food marketing to young people worldwide: trends and policy drivers. Am J Public Health 97, 19621973.
16. World Health Organization (2006) Marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children: report of a WHO forum and technical meeting, Oslo, Norway, 2–5 May 2006. (accessed December 2007).
17. United Nations (undated) Convention on the Rights of the Child. (accessed December 2007).
18. United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999) General Comment 12 on the Right to Adequate Food E/C.12/1999/5. (accessed December 2007).
19. International Obesity Taskforce (2007) Sydney Principles. (accessed December 2007).
20. Oxford Health Alliance (2007) Marketing to children questionnaire. (accessed December 2007).
21.Hawkes C (2005) Self-regulation of food advertising: what it can, could and cannot do to discourage unhealthy eating habits among children. Nutr Bull 30, 374382.
22.Caraher M, Landon J & Dalmeny K (2006) Television advertising and children: lessons from policy development. Public Health Nutr 9, 596605.
23. Unilever (2007) Unilever strengthens its global commitment to responsible marketing. (accessed December 2007).
24. Cadbury Schweppes (2007) Corporate and Social Responsibility Report 2006, Marketing Code. (accessed December 2007).
25. Chester J, Montgomery K (2007) Interactive Food and Beverage Marketing: Targeting children and youth in the digital age. (accessed December 2007).
26. Office de la Protection du Consommateur, Quebec (not dated) Consumer Protection Act, Section 248. (accessed December 2007).
27. Swedish Government (not dated) Radio and Television Act (1996:844), Chapter 7, Section 4. (accessed December 2007).
28. Ofcom Office of Communications (2007) Television Advertising of Food and Drink Products to Children, Final statement. (accessed December 2007).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 10
Total number of PDF views: 168 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 495 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.