‘Industry self-regulation is not working’

Organisations as diverse as Foodwatch, Eurochild and the European Public Health Alliance have released a blueprint Food Marketing Directive​ as an example of how the EU can use its powers to effectively regulate cross-border marketing.

“We are deeply concerned by the heavy marketing of unhealthy food at the root of unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles. This goes against the interests of children. We are committed to join efforts to protect children from aggressive marketing and advertising, along with promoting a healthy lifestyle,”​ commented Annemie Drieskens, Confederation of Family Organisations in the European Union (COFACE).

Core provisions in the Directive include banning advertising of ‘nutritionally poor’ food between 6am and 11pm on broadcast media, ending the marketing of nutritionally poor food on digital media – including social and video sharing platforms, prohibiting sponsorship of events such as sporting events or festivals with cross boarder events, ending the use of other marketing techniques such as food packaging that appeals to children, and  defining a ‘child’ as anyone under 18. The coalition wants regulators to use the World Health Organization Europe’s nutrient profile model​ to define what is ‘nutritionally poor food’.

Describing childhood overweight and obesity rates in Europe as running ‘rampant​’, the coalition pointed to research suggesting young people across the region see more than four ads​ for sugary, fatty and salty food on television each day. “Digital marketing is enabling​ ever more tailored and persuasive approaches, but remains largely unchallenged,”​ they noted.

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