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Revolutionary new method to reduce cancer risk

Thanks to your support, we can fund cutting-edge research that protects children and saves lives. 

Prof. Kathryn Backholer and her team have developed a revolutionary image detection system to monitor the marketing of unhealthy food products to children that are known to increase risk of cancer. 

The research team created a world-first, AI enabled system to capture children’s exposure to, and engagement with, unhealthy food and drink advertising, and are now extending the system to also detect alcohol, e-cigarettes, tobacco and gambling. 

Understanding how children engage with various forms of advertising and marketing for products that increase cancer risk will support future policies to effectively protect children and teens,” says Prof. Backholer. 

Children need good nutrition for healthy growth and development. What children eat can affect not only their physical health, but their mood, mental health, and learning. Good nutrition is also important for their long-term health and for prevention of serious diseases like cancer. 

With the rise of digital and social media platforms, children are being exposed to high volumes of marketing for alcohol, e-cigarettes and junk food, and this marketing is personalised and more targeted than ever before. Exposure to advertising of these products during childhood has been shown to have a lifelong influence, increasing lifetime cancer risk. 

“This project is about preventing cancer across the life-course by reducing children and youth exposure to the products known to increase cancer risk.” 

Prof. Backholer is a recipient of a Cancer Council Victoria Venture Grant which is designed to support innovative researchers pursuing courageous ideas that have the potential to revolutionise the way cancer is detected, treated, and managed. This unique research program is entirely funded by generous Victorians. 

By funding bold, innovative research like this, you are helping to find new and imaginative ways to set up our kids for a healthy future.  

This work would not have been possible without Cancer Council Victoria’s support. Our project is now leading the world in the design of image-based recognition systems for monitoring harmful marketing practices,” says Prof. Backholer.