According to a new report, A Junk‐Free Childhood 2012: Marketing foods and beverages to children in Europe, advertising junk food continues to undermine children’s health, despite the food industry’s promises that the sector would restrict their marketing activities. The report found over 30 fatty and sugary foods which are classified as unhealthy in government‐approved schemes across Europe and the US, but which are considered healthy by the manufacturers and which they allow themselves to advertise

Self‐regulation simply does not work in a highly competitive marketplace,” noted Dr Lobstein, Executive director of the London-based non-profit organisation The Food Commission. “Asking the companies to restrict their own marketing is like asking a burglar to fix the locks on your front door. They will say you are protected, but you are not,” he also argued.

In June 2012 the government of Norway issued draft proposals for a new regulation limiting the marketing, across a wide range of media, of a wide range of foods and beverages to children under age 18. “Children have a champion in Norway .. we want this high level of protection applied across Europe,” said Dr Lobstein.

Background

The issue of food marketing to children has been on the policy agenda in Europe for several years. In 2005 the EC Health Commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, called for the food industry to regulate itself, or face regulation imposed by the European Commission. In September 2006, the pan-European Ministerial Charter on Obesity called for “regulations to substantially reduce the extent and impact of commercial promotion of energy-dense foods and beverages, particularly to children, with the development of international approaches, such as a code on marketing to children in this area.”

The European Commission’s 2007 White Paper on obesity noted the need for action in this area and, while supporting voluntary initiatives, promised a review in 2010 to determine whether other approaches are required. With this in mind, the Commission’s Health and Consumer Directorate, DG SANCO, has hosted a series of meetings between civil society and industry representatives in the European Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, discussing industry self-regulation.

In early 2012 the World Health Organization issued a set of Guidelines to assist member states in the development of national marketing controls.


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- EU and Member States’ strategies on nutrition, overweight and obesity
- Report of the European Commission Working Groups reviewing elements of the EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

Last modified on January 14 2013.