New report says countries are failing to protect children from the effects of junk food marketing.
23 January 2020
World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has released a new report, Building Momentum: Lessons on implementing robust restrictions of food and non-alcoholic beverage marketing to children (PDF), that highlights how countries around the world are failing to protect children from the effects of junk food marketing. This undermines every child’s right to health and adequate nutrition.
Global childhood obesity rates are on the rise, with more than 350 million children and adolescents aged 0–19 overweight or obese. Overweight or obese children are more likely to be overweight or obese adults, putting them at an increased risk of at least 12 different cancers, as well as other diseases.
The report takes lessons learned from around the world, highlighting that restricting the marketing of junk food to children reduces their exposure to these products and therefore reduces how much of them they eat. This can help reduce childhood obesity rates and it is why marketing restrictions are internationally recognised as urgently needed. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has cited the need for food marketing restrictions in country reports including Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, Brazil, Chile, Poland and the United Arab Emirates.
“Our report highlights the vital role that governments play in ensuring that junk food not be actively promoted to children. Governments who implement marketing restrictions are not banning any food from the market, they are simply restricting the food and beverage industry from advertising harmful products and targeting children who are vulnerable”
– Kate Oldridge-Turner, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at WCRF
“Food marketing negatively affects several rights of the child enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international human rights, including the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the right to adequate, nutritious food, and the right to privacy. Identifying obesity and fo–od marketing as human rights concerns increases the pressure on governments to effectively regulate harmful commercial practices and ensure that children are not exposed to unhealthy food marketing. Regulating the food and the advert tech industries is all the more urgent as the voluntary pledges that these industries have taken have proven ineffective over the years.”
– Amandine Garde, Professor of Law and Director of the Law and Non-Communicable Disease Unit at the University of Liverpool
“It’s naive to entrust our children’s health to the same companies that are actively encouraging them to consume unhealthy foods. The end goal of the food industry will always be to make more profit. When 350 million children and young people worldwide are above a healthy weight we need the government to introduce higher standards to protect children from the influence of sneaky marketing tactics.”
– Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Australian Obesity Policy Coalition