Junk Food Gets Pushed In The Poorer Areas of Melbourne

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A survey of food advertising at public transport stops in Melbourne suburbs has found that ads for fast food restaurants, flavoured milk and fruit juice are more common in poorer areas.

More affluent areas see advertising for diet soft drinks, tea, coffee and convenience stores.

Previous research has reported that outdoor food advertising usually promotes unhealthy foods and/or that unhealthy food advertising is more clustered in deprived communities.

This research, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, supports the notion that outdoor food advertising in Melbourne does not promote more nutritious foods.

“Such a food environment entrenches population norms around unhealthy eating,” Philippa J. Settle of the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University and colleagues write.

The absence of advertising for healthy foods suggests there is room for improvement in all areas.

Public transit stops are important advertising locations as they are visited by large numbers of people each day and may therefore have a significant impact on food choices.

The study found that 30% of public transit stops had at least one advertisement for food.

A total of 233 food advertisements were identified at the 558 public transit stops audited across 20 suburbs.

This is the first study to examine outdoor food advertisements at all forms of public transit stops and to sample by area-level disadvantage.

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