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Home Policy and public affairs WCRF International Food Policy Framework for Healthy Diets: NOURISHING Restrict food advertising and other forms of commercial promotion

Restrict food advertising and other forms of commercial promotion

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This table provides examples of the types of policy action 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.

We welcome feedback. Please contact us at policy@wcrf.org if you would like to add any further examples of implemented policies, see the policy documents that we reference, or have any further questions or comments.


Examples of policy actions Government What the action involves
Mandatory regulation of broadcast food advertising to children Ireland Advertising and other forms of commercial communication of unhealthy foods, as defined by a nutrient profiling model, are prohibited during children’s TV and radio programmes where over 50% of audience are under 18 years old (Children’s Commercial Communications Code 2009, last revised in 2013). Content rules also apply to commercial communications for unhealthy foods broadcast outside of children’s programmes but which are directed at children.
South Korea TV advertising to children up to 17 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 2008, amended several times since). The restriction also applies to communication that is assumed to target children (e.g. where free toys are included).
United Kingdom Advertising of unhealthy foods, 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 High-calorie food with low nutritional value may not be advertised to children up to 17 years of age on internet using gratuitous gifts other than food which may entice children to buy such foods; an example of a gratuitous gifts are toys (Article 10 of the Special Act on the Safety Management of Children’s Dietary Life 2008, amended several times since).

Mandatory regulation of specific food marketing techniques Ireland The 2009 Children’s Commercial Communications Code (last revised 2013) states that food advertising to children under the age of 18 must not feature celebrities. (The same provision was found in the 2005 Children’s Advertising Code, which was replaced by the Communications Code.)
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.
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 Food Labeling and Advertising. The government convened an expert committee on children’s marketing and requested them to develop regulatory norms to implement the Law with the aim of reducing children's exposure to unhealthy food advertising. The norms have been developed as part of the same process of developing norms on "warning labels" (see "N") but not implemented.
Peru 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 food advertising. The Act states that advertising directed to children and adolescents under 16 years old and disseminated through any format or media, should not stimulate the consumption of food and non-alcoholic drinks containing trans fat or high contents of sugar, sodium and saturated fats. The Act requires implementing regulations in order to be applied.
Government engage with industry to develop self-regulation Bulgaria Article 76 of the Bulgarian Radio and Television Act Act (enacted in 1998 and amended several times since) requires media service providers to establish codes of conduct on food and beverage marketing to children, namely in relation to food products considered unhealthy because of their fat, trans fat, salt/sodium and sugar content. Based on Article 76, the Framework for Responsible Communication of Food and Drinks was enacted by the National Council for Self-Regulation (NCSR) as an integral part of NCSR’s National Ethical Standards for Advertising and Commercial Communication (2009). The Code and Framework apply to all forms of advertising, including TV, radio, print, internet, cinema, direct marketing, SMS, product packaging, outdoor, and in-store sales activities. The Framework mandates that nutrition information and claims about nutritional and health benefits should be based on scientific evidence. Specific criteria are set out by the Framework to restrict marketing those food products and beverages to children which are not recommended to eat in excess because of their content of fat, trans fats, salt/sodium, and sugar.

The NCSR is an independent, self-regulatory body of the advertising and commercial communications sector in Bulgaria which works closely with media, advertising and food companies. Adherence to the Code and Framework is voluntary, but once an organisation becomes a member, decisions by the NCSR are binding. Compliance is checked by the NCSR, and complaints are handled free of charge. The Bulgarian government is not participating in the NCSR; however, the NCSR meets yearly with government representatives to present and discuss their activities.

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.
Latvia 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.
Norway 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.
Spain 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 Thailand
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: 24/06/2014

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