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Original Research Articles

A Comparative Doctrinal Analysis of Food Advertisement Laws in Sri Lanka with Selected Jurisdictions


Charith Amidha Hettiarachchi ,

University of Technology Sydney, AU
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Belinda Reeve,

University of Sydney, AU
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Sanath Sameera Wijesinghe

Queensland University of Technology, AU
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Introduction: The food industry is an ever-growing industry. Food advertising is its main marketing strategy. The majority of food that advertising the children are exposed to is unhealthy products, thus promoting unhealthy food and beverages and contributing to an increase in the burden of diet-related noncommunicable diseases. Therefore, restrictions on unhealthy food advertisements via government regulations are necessary to promote public health.


Objectives: To analyses the main food advertisement law in Sri Lanka and compares it to laws relevant to food advertising in other national jurisdictions


Methods: A desk review of laws associated with food advertisements in Sri Lanka was conducted, followed by a comparative review of food advertisement laws in nine other national jurisdictions.


Results: Sri Lanka does not have a single advertisement law, and most legal provisions on food advertising are merged into labelling regulations. When compared to other jurisdictions, Sri Lankan definition of food advertisement is narrow, and the regulatory regime does not have strict restrictions on the timing of advertising; target Sri Lankan group; type of food advertised; content of advertising; and health messages. The law also lacks a comprehensive suite of enforcement options.


Conclusions & Recommendations: Sri Lankan Food Advertising Regulations contain weak restrictions on unhealthy food marketing to children when compared to other jurisdictions globally. It is recommended that the government should publish separate Food (Advertising) Regulations under the Food Act of 1980 which would include provisions on the timing of advertising; target group; type of food advertised; health messages; and enforcement measures such as penalties and warnings, while also revising the existing narrow definition of food advertisement.
How to Cite: Hettiarachchi, C.A., Reeve, B. and Wijesinghe, S.S., 2021. A Comparative Doctrinal Analysis of Food Advertisement Laws in Sri Lanka with Selected Jurisdictions. Journal of the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka, 27(2), pp.339–349. DOI:
Published on 14 Sep 2021.
Peer Reviewed


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