Mass media campaigns addressing physical activity, nutrition and obesity in Australia 1996–2015

Date: August 2016

The authors

Prevention Research Collaboration, The University of Sydney

  • Dr Anne Grunseit
  • Adjunct Professor Bill Bellew
  • Erika Goldbaum
  • Dr Joanne Gale
  • Professor Adrian Bauman


  • The use of mass media campaigns to address risk factors for chronic disease prevention has had a chequered history in the past three decades in Australia. There were initial successes with mass media anti-tobacco campaigns, starting with the first Quit Campaign in NSW in 1983.
  • Further development of mass media campaigns and associated activities in Australia led to major reductions in smoking rates, including in adolescent smoking.
  • The rise of obesity in the 1990s, and global increase in non-communicable diseases (especially diabetes and cardiovascular disease) led to substantial interest in using mass media campaigns in new areas, through the communication of health messages about healthy diet, physical activity and obesity prevention.
  • Mass media campaigns in these domains have occurred in many countries, but detailed informative evidence on their implementation and effects is reported infrequently. This patchwork of evidence on campaigns for physical activity, diet and obesity prevention has led to this review.

Key findings

  • The authors developed the FLOWPROOF protocol comprising nine key components of campaign implementation and evaluation based on a synthesis of literature on campaign evaluation and effectiveness, and good practice characteristics of interventions for healthy eating and physical activity in Australia.
  • The review considered 17 mass media campaigns conducted in Australia from 1996 to 2015. The selected campaigns were reviewed using the FLOWPROOF protocol.
  • In light of the review, nine key recommendations for mass media campaigns in Australia are put forward.