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Progress made in addressing food marketing to children, but challenges remain
Date:7/13/2010

far. If they had tried to debate the recommendations one-by-one, they may have found countries unwilling to endorse them and that would have unravelled quite a lot of the work that has been done to get this far," Lobstein said.

One of the major challenges is that voluntary action has some impact, but not enough, Lobstein said. "Food companies are making pledges and showing that they are sticking to those, but the pledges have loopholes. They don't all stick to the same criteria around the definition of marketing, what age group of children and what foods are covered. Companies have been pushing the boundaries into children's social marketing networks, school playgrounds, text messaging to mobile phones and so on, undermining any likely parental controls. We need a system that supports, rather than hinders, the efforts of parents to prevent obesity in their children. You cannot expect the industry to reform itself when so much money would be lost," he said.

In a separate presentation at the conference, Brazilian researcher Fabio Gomes reported an analysis of advances and setbacks in his country's effort to address food marketing. The Brazilian government is proposing statutory regulation that would require health warnings to be included in advertisements for food. Gomes said that challenges in Brazil include weak consumer criticism and the abandonment of early government proposals for a watershed for advertising to children. Also, while multinational companies have made pledges on the issue in the United States and in Europe, they have not made their pledges or self-regulation rules effective in Brazil, he said. "We are in a deaf dialogue in Brazil," said Gomes, a nutritionist and senior analyst at the National Cancer Institute of Brazil.

Lobstein said it is less important whether measures are voluntary or statutory. What matters, he said, is that governments need to agree a clear set of targets that include cross-border marketing applied
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Contact: Emma Ross
rosswrite@mac.com
International Association for the Study of Obesity
Source:Eurekalert

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