STOCKHOLM, Sweden: The last six years have seen significant progress in efforts to curb the marketing of unhealthy food to children, with an increasing number of governments taking on the issue, but considerable challenges remain, a leading expert on the topic said today (Tuesday).
At the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Tim Lobstein presented an analysis of the European policy landscape, undertaken as part of the European Commission's effort to gather evidence to support policy making on the marketing of foods to children.
For many years, public health experts have argued that the marketing of calorie-packed food and drinks to children contributes to the global obesity problem, but the issue has gained more traction over the last few years as concern over the scale of childhood obesity and has grown and as efforts to combat it have progressed.
"An increasing number of countries are trying to address this issue, with some introducing regulations addressing television advertising during children's programming or the use of familiar personalities or fictional characters to promote products during that television time slot. There is real progress, but the challenges are numerous," said Lobstein, director of policy at the International Association for the Study of Obesity, which coordinated the European Union PolMark study. "Firstly, most countries do not address advertising to children by the calorie content or other nutrient quality of the food product and marketing channels beyond broadcast advertising have been largely ignored. Secondly, our research has shown that there's a certain amount of anarchy at the moment and concluded that the terms need to be set by government, not the industry itself, because although they appear to be willing, there's chaos within the details, with a lot of contradiction in what industry is offering."
Internationally, several countries are considering strong measures, Lobstein not
|Contact: Emma Ross|
International Association for the Study of Obesity