Cartoon characters and free toys should be off the menu for advertisements marketing junk food to children, says an industry group insisting self-regulation of the sector is failing.
Despite a self-regulatory code being in place for almost a decade, Victoria's Obesity Policy Coalition on Tuesday found systemic failu
res and called on the government to intervene.
"It is naive to entrust our children's health to the same companies that are actively encouraging them to consume junk foods," the coalition's executive manager Jane Martin said.
"The end goal of the food industry will always be to make more profit.
"We know marketing directly impacts what children eat, what they want to eat and what they pester their carers for."
Packaging including popular cartoon characters and animations from Disney-branded foods, to the Coco Pops monkey are among a list of bad junk food marketing practices, the coalition found.
A report compiled by the coalition - which brings together experts from Cancer Council Victoria, Diabetes Victoria, and Deakin University - found there was no reduction in unhealthy TV food marketing to children between 2011 and 2015.
The report criticises free toys and other giveaways, in-store promotions and said fast food outlets' sponsorship of junior sport does little to protect kids from unhealthy food.
More than one million Australian children are above a healthy weight, the July report found.
Ms Martin said the food industry claimed to be compliant in meeting the self-regulatory code but the "bar is set so low" and stakeholders are essentially setting their own homework while giving out top marks.
Children are also exposed to the marketing material through social media, online games and even apps, in some instances where it's hard for parents to see.
"It's time for government to step in and support families and communities to raise healthy children, free from the negative influence of junk food marketing," Ms Martin said.