Restrict food marketing

Restrict food advertising and other forms of commercial promotion

This table provides examples of the types of policy actions that can be taken within this policy area, examples of where these policy actions have been implemented, and a brief description of what the action involves. It provides a global snapshot, largely of policies already implemented; it is not necessarily comprehensive. The examples were collated through a review of international reports of policy actions around the world, academic articles reporting on policy actions, and online government resources.

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Examples of policy actions Examples of where implemented What the action involves
Mandatory regulation of broadcast food advertising to children Iran

Broadcast advertising of soft drinks has been prohibited since 2004. In 2014, in the context of the Iranian Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (2011-2015), the Ministry of Health and Medical Education prepared a list of 24 food items to be prohibited from advertising in all media. The list has been sent to the Commerce, Industry and Finance ministries for approval.



Advertising, sponsorship, teleshopping and product placement of foods high in fats, sugars and salt, as defined by a nutrient profiling model, are prohibited during children’s TV and radio programmes where over 50% of the audience are under 18 years old (Children’s Commercial Communications Code, 2013 revision). In addition, there is an overall limit on advertising of foods high in fats, sugars and salt adverts at any time of day to no more than 25% of sold advertising time and to only one in four advertisements. Remaining advertising targeted at children under the age of 13 must not include nutrient or health claims or include licensed characters.


In February 2014, the Ministry of Health issued an Order restricting the advertising of foods and sweetened beverages, defined according to a nutrient profiling model. The restrictions apply to TV programmes classified as “A” within the times of 2.30-7.30pm on weekdays and 7.00am-7.30pm on weekends, where over 35% of the audience are under age 13. Advertising for these foods is also restricted in films classified as "A". Implementation began on 15 July 2014 for sweetened drinks, potato chips, chocolates and confectionary and will be extended to other foods covered by the nutrient profiling model in January 2015.

South Korea

TV advertising to children under 18 years of age is prohibited for specific categories of food before, during and after programmes shown between 5-7pm and during other children’s programmes (Article 10 of the Special Act on the Safety Management of Children’s Dietary Life, as amended 2010). The restriction also applies to advertising on TV, radio and Internet which include "gratuitous" incentives to purchase e.g. free toys.

United Kingdom

Advertising and product placement of foods high in fats, sugars and salt, as defined by a nutrient profiling model, is prohibited during TV and radio programmes that have 20% more viewers under 16 years old relative to the general viewing population (includes sponsorship of TV programmes). The restrictions came into force in February 2007, with a phased implementation by advertisers by end of 2008.

Mandatory regulation of food advertising on non-broadcast communications channels South Korea

Internet advertising which includes “gratuitous” incentives to purchase (e.g. free toys) are prohibited (Article 10 of the Special Act on the Safety Management of Children’s Dietary Life, as amended 2010).

Mandatory regulation of specific food marketing techniques Ireland

The 2009 Children’s Commercial Communications Code (as amended 2010) states that food advertising to children under the age of 18 must not feature celebrities, and to children under age 15, not include characters and personalities from children’s programming.

United Kingdom

Product placement is covered by restrictions on broadcast advertising (see above).

Mandatory regulation of food marketing in schools Spain

In 2011 the Spanish Parliament approved a Law on Nutrition and Food Safety, which stated that kindergartens and schools should be free from advertising. Implementation, which is reportedly not enforced, is at the discretion of regional authorities.

United States

In 2007, the state of Maine passed a law prohibiting brand-specific advertising of certain unhealthy foods and beverages on school grounds, at any time. The ban applies to "foods of minimum nutritional value" as defined by federal law. It is reported that compliance with the ban is poor.


In September 2013, the government of Uruguay adopted Law No 19,140 “Alimentación saludable en los centros de enseñanza” (Healthy foods in schools). The law prohibits the advertising and marketing of foods and drinks that don’t meet the nutrition standards [referenced in Article 3 of the law, and outlined in school nutrition recommendations published by the Ministry of Health in 2014 (see “O”)]. Advertising in all forms is prohibited, including posters, billboards, use of logos/brands on school supplies, sponsorship, distribution of prizes, free samples on school premises and the display and visibility of food. The law began to be implemented in 2015.


Mandatory requirement that advertisements must carry a health message or warning France

All television advertising (targeted at children or adults) for processed food and drinks, or food and drinks containing added fats, sweeteners and/or salt, must be accompanied by a message on the principles of dietary education as approved by the National Institute of Health Education. The messages were defined by a 2007 Decree: "For your health, eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day"; "For your health, exercise regularly"; "For your health, avoid eating too many foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt"; "For your health, avoid snacking between meals".

Framework legislation is in place for the regulation of food marketing to children Chile

In 2012, the Chilean government approved a Law of Nutritional Composition of Food and Advertising (Ley 20, 606). It provided framework legislation to: define the limits of energy, saturated fats, sugar and sodium content to be considered “in excess" in a food; enable the use of a warning message and a graphic design on food labels to communicate the “excess” (see “N”); and restrict advertising directed to children under aged 14 of foods in the “excess” category. The government convened an expert committee to develop the implementing norms and released it for public consultation. The consultation was completed in October 2014. A final proposal for the norms is expected in December 2014. The norms define advertising targeted to children as TV programs with an audience of greater than 20% children, and according to the design of the advertisement. Promotional incentives, such as toys are included in the ban, as is advertising of foods in schools. The law is scheduled to be implemented later in 2015.


In 2013, the "Promoting Healthy Food for Children Act" was passed into law in Peru. The law includes a range of provisions designed to discourage unhealthy diets, including warnings on advertising for foods high in saturated fats, sugars and salt, and containing trans fats. The Act required implementing regulations in order to be applied. In April 2014 proposed regulations (Ministerial Resolution 321/2014) were issued containing the definition of “high”. The regulations were put out for consultation and are currently waiting to be enacted.

Government engage with industry to develop self-regulation to restrict food marketing to children Denmark

The Code of Responsible Food Marketing Communication was issued by the Forum of Responsible Food Marketing Communication, a cooperation between Danish industry organisations of the food and beverage, retail and media sectors. The Code is a voluntary, self-regulatory initiative effective since January 2008, applicable to food and beverage marketing to children aged 13 and under via media outlets (TV, radio, internet, SMS, newspapers, comic books). The Code sets guideline limits for salt, sugar and fat content in ten food categories. It is recommended that food products exceeding these limits should not be marketed to children. Food manufacturers themselves determine if their products are suitable for marketing to children. Compliance is checked by the secretariat of the Forum. The Danish government follows the results of the Code, and annual status meetings are held between the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the Forum.


In 2011, the Ministry of Health signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Federation of Food Enterprises and the soft drink business association to encourage changes to children-oriented soft drink advertising.


The government already restricts all broadcast advertising to children through legislation in Norway. A voluntary initiative agreed in 2013 calls on industry to follow standards (set largely by government) on a further range of communications channels. It applies to marketing to children under the age of 13.


A voluntary code developed between government and industry sets general guidelines and restricts product placement and use of celebrities in food advertising for signatories.

Government support voluntary pledges developed by industry European Commission
United States

Governments have stated they support the implementation of "pledges" developed by food companies which restrict advertising of foods (varies by company) to children under age 12 through specified communications channels (typically TV, radio and internet). (See link to Pledges on Food Marketing to Children Worldwide below)

Table last updated: 19/02/2015

A number of other organisations also provide access to policy databases. Some are listed below:

WHO Global Database on the Implementation of Nutrition Action
Yale Rudd Center for Food and Obesity – Pledges on Food Marketing to Children Worldwide

WHO Europe Database on Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity

United States
Yale Rudd Center for Food and Obesity – Legislation Database
National Association of State Boards of Education – State School Health Policy Database
National Cancer Institute – Classification of Laws Associated with School Students
Centers for Disease Control – Chronic Disease State Policy Tracking System

Prevention Policies Directory