We developed the NOURISHING framework to highlight where governments need to take action to promote healthy diets and reduce overweight and obesity.
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There is clear evidence that the advertisements children see influence their food preferences and habits. There is also a lot of evidence that children and adolescents around the world are exposed to a whole host of other promotional techniques, whether on a billboard or through a phone or computer.
Emerging evidence shows that restrictions work to reduce children’s exposure to marketing, but this depends on the criteria used in the restrictions. Given the role played by parents and caregivers in what children eat, consideration is needed of how they are also influenced by promotional activities.
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In March 2018, the Turkish government introduced the Regulations on Principles and Procedures of Broadcasting Services which restricts the advertising of food and beverages that are not recommended for excessive consumption in general diets before, during or after children’s television programmes. The Regulations protect children up to 18 years of age. Television advertisements that are played during non-children’s television programmes that advertise such food and beverages must display health promotion messages (see below - “R” - Mandatory requirement that advertisements must carry a health message or warning).
In March 2018, the Turkish government introduced the Regulations on Principles and Procedures of Broadcasting Services which require television advertisements of foods and beverages not recommended for excessive consumption to display health promotion messages encouraging physical activity and consuming a healthy diet in a banner on the lower part of the screen. Advertising of these foods is restricted before, during or after children’s television programmes (see above “R” - Mandatory regulation of broadcast food advertising to children).
The EU Pledge was launched in 2007 as a commitment by the food industry, supported by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), to the European Union Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Companies commit to not advertising food on mass media where children under the age of 12 make up 35% of the audience unless their products comply with category-based thresholds on sodium, saturated fat and total sugar. Soft drinks and sugar-based products (chocolate, confectionary, jam/marmalade, sugar/honey/syrup) may not be marketed to children under the age of 12. Members can comply with their own criteria if they are demonstrably stricter than the ones developed by the EU Pledge. Members also commit to not advertise in primary schools except when there is agreement with the school for educational purposes. The European Commission mediates the communication between the EU Platform and the WFA. Belgium, Hungary, Portugal and Turkey have national pledges modelled after the EU Pledge. (See Yale Rudd Center for Food and Obesity's database on Pledges on Food Marketing to Children Worldwide).
Awareness is one precursor to eating well. The evidence suggests that public campaigns can boost awareness. To influence consumption, they need to be sustained and use multiple channels.
Food-based dietary guidelines are an information and communication tool involving the translation of recommended nutrient intakes or population targets into recommendations of the balance of food that populations should be consuming for a healthy diet. They typically promote increased intake of fruit and vegetables and limited intake of salt/sodium and sugar. They may also include guidance on physical activity and healthy weight, and provide guidelines for different population groups. Countries use various formats of presenting the guidelines including cooking pots (Guatemala, Paraguay), pineapples (Fiji), pyramids (India, US), plates (Australia, Colombia, UK), pagodas (China), spinning top (Venezuela), traditional African house (Benin) and circles (Argentina). Some countries have started to include sustainability criteria in their dietary guidelines (eg Germany in 2013, Finland and Brazil in 2014, Sweden and Qatar in 2015, the Netherlands and UK in 2016). Brazil’s revised dietary guidelines, launched in 2014, present food- and meal-based recommendations that take into account cultural dimensions and promote the consumption of minimally processed food as well as health, wellbeing and sustainable food systems, and recommend avoiding ultra-processed food. Canada’s new food guide, launched in 2019, provides guidance on what to eat, as well as how to eat. This includes recommendations on healthy eating habits that encourage people to cook more often, to be mindful of their eating habits, to use food labels, to cook at home and to eat meals with others. The new food guide is an online suite of resources that provides information targeted to different audiences, including the general public, health professionals and policy makers.
Details on the content of national dietary guidelines can be found on the FAO database on Food-based dietary guidelines.