Health organisations support restricting marketing of unhealthy foods to children

We join 17 organisations to sign a letter supporting WHO Europe’s nutrient profile model to restrict marketing of foods high in fat, sugar & salt to kids

15 April 2015

World Cancer Research Fund International has joined 17 organisations to sign an open letter to the Regional Director of World Health Organization (Europe) supporting its nutrient profile model.

Launched in February, WHO Europe’s nutrient profile model was developed to help countries identify foods whose marketing should be restricted to children; these are foods and drinks high in energy, saturated fats, trans fatty acids, free sugars or salt. Despite some countries in Europe taking action on the issue, government action to restrict marketing such products on television, the internet, billboards or other channels has been limited.

The letter – supported by organisations such as the European Heart Network, World Obesity and the Royal College of Physicians – states that there is “unequivocal evidence that unhealthy food and non-alcoholic beverage marketing is related to childhood obesity” but that very few countries in Europe are using nutrient profiling to exclude marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children.

In addition, the open letter:

  • highlights that although many food and drink companies in the region have signed up to the EU Pledge, the evidence suggests that a regulatory approach is more effective.
  • endorses the nutrient profile model as an authoritative, scientifically sound tool for governments to use to take policy action to tackle the issue.

The most recent statistics show that one in three eleven year olds is overweight or obese in the WHO European Region. World Cancer Research Fund International’s own analysis of worldwide research shows that there are now ten cancers linked to being overweight or obese, and that developing healthy food preferences in childhood are more likely to result in healthy eating in adulthood.

The open letter can be read here.