WHO recommends policies to restrict food marketing to kids
The World Health Organization has just come out with a new report on protecting children from the harms of marketing unhealthy food to kids.
Some conclusions from research on the effects of marketing unhealthy foods to kids:
- Across studies, the most frequently marketed food categories were fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, chocolate and confectionery, salty and savoury snacks, sweet bakery items and snacks, breakfast cereals, and desserts.
- Reductions in children’s exposure to food marketing were more often found with: mandatory policies; policies designed to restrict food marketing to children, including those older than 12 years; and policies that used a government-led nutrient profile model to determine the foods for which marketing was to be restricted.
- Reductions in the power of food marketing were more often found with: mandatory policies; and policies designed to restrict food marketing to children, including those older than 12 years.
- Policies to protect children from the harmful impacts of food marketing would be highly cost-effective or cost-saving.
- Policies to protect children from the harmful impacts of food marketing can be expected to reduce health inequities.
- In HICs [high-income countries], policies to protect children from the harmful impact of food marketing are largely acceptable to
the public, but industry has generally opposed government-led restrictions.
- Some countries have successfully implemented policies, demonstrating that policies are acceptable to government and policy-makers and feasible to implement.
Therefore, WHO recommends that policies:
- Be mandatory
- Protect children of all ages
- Use a government-led nutrient profile model to classify foods to be restricted from marketing;
- Be sufficiently comprehensive to minimize the risk of migration of marketing to other media, to other spaces within the same medium or to other age groups
- Restrict the power of food marketing to persuade.
WHO has just given governments a mandate to take action. Go for it!