A new study provides clear evidence of the health benefits of banning TV junk food advertising aimed at children, AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said.
Research conducted by Professor Boyd Swinburn and his colleagues at the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre in Obesity Prevention at Deakin University found banning junk food ads aimed at children would lead to a 1.4 per cent, or 540 grams, reduction in the average weight of an Australian child.
According to the research, the associated health benefits could deliver $300 million worth of savings to the health system.
Dr Pesce said the Government should act to protect children from junk food advertising.
"While the Food and Grocery Council may be in denial, every parent knows that junk food advertising to children at any time of the day undermines efforts to encourage healthy eating habits," Dr Pesce said.
"The Federal and State Governments have agreed on shared national targets for reducing obesity.
"It is time for the Federal Government to show it's serious about the targets by banning junk food advertising to children.
"The Australian Society for the Study of Obesity has estimated that childhood obesity is rising at an annual rate of one per cent. If this continues, around half the number of young Australians will be overweight by 2025.
"We need to act now to curb Australia's obesity epidemic."
Dr Pesce said the food industry could not be relied upon to regulate its own advertising practices for junk food.
"The industry has had opportunities for years to adopt responsible advertising practice, but it has only started to talk about this now, after the heat has been turned up."
The Australian Bureau of Statistics' National Nutrition Survey, conducted in 1995, indicated that 20 per cent of those aged 12 through to 24 years were overweight - with a further 8 per cent obese.
Self-reported weight status was reported on in the 2004-5 National Health Survey and the results indicated that 25 per cent of those aged 12-24 years were overweight or obese.