The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday released new guidelines calling for stronger policies to protect children from the harmful impact of food marketing.
The UN health body said that children continue to be exposed to food marketing, which predominantly promotes foods high in saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, free sugars and/or sodium and uses a wide variety of marketing strategies that are likely to appeal to children. Food marketing has a harmful impact on children’s food choice and their dietary intake, affects their purchase requests to adults for marketed foods and influences the development of their norms about food consumption.
The new guideline recommends countries to implement comprehensive mandatory policies to protect children of all ages from the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages that are high in saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, free sugars and/or salt (HFSS).
Food marketing remains a threat to public health and continues to negatively affect children’s food choices, intended choices and their dietary intake,” the WHO said in a statement.
The global health agency said that restricting the power of food marketing to persuade, which involves limiting the use of cartoons or techniques that appeal to children, such as including toys with products, advertising with songs, and celebrity endorsements, is also impactful. “Aggressive and pervasive marketing of foods and beverages high in fats, sugars and salt to children is responsible for unhealthy dietary choices,” said Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the Department of Nutrition and Food Safety of WHO, in the statement.