The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a new report evaluating the implementation of recommendation for the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children within the European Region.
Evidence shows that the marketing of high fat high sugar (HFSS) foods has an impact on childhood obesity
The latest WHO evaluation report found;
- Only 54% of member states in the WHO European Region state that they have taken steps to limit marketing of HFSS foods to children
- The overall impact of these policies has been limited
- Current policies and regulations often only apply to traditional media and younger children (under 12 years), and not digital media. They use narrow definitions and implementing criteria, and rarely address cross-border marketing
- In addition, there remains a preference for self-regulation by the food and advertising industries, an approach that has been shown to be ineffective in making an substantial impact in the past
The report concluded that States must improve on implementing recommendations and comply with their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all children. Guidance and recommendations on how to achieve this are contained within the report.
In Ireland, under the auspices of Healthy Ireland, voluntary codes of practice for non-broadcast media advertising and marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages exist. These codes do address the marketing of HFSS foods to children, however, their voluntary nature means they have a limit to their influence.
Furthermore, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has a specific Children’s Commercial Communications Code which deals with commercial promotion aimed at children or broadcast in or around children’s programming. It includes rules on the promotion to children of HFSS food.
However, in practice the definitions in this code are open to interpretation. Recently, a complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland against sponsorship by McDonalds of the Big Big Movie was rejected as the movie in question (The Santa Clause) was deemed “not Children’s programmes as defined in the code” and the advertisement was “not Children’s Commercial Communications as defined by the code and are not promoting products or services that are of particular interest in children". IPH developed consultation response on the BAI code in 2013 here.