Self-regulation does not protect children from unhealthy food advertising, says UOW

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Children in countries where food and beverage vendors are able to regulate themselves about what they advertise and when they are exposed to more unhealthy foods and drink television advertisements, compared to countries with no advertising regulations or restrictions, a global study, led by a researcher from the University of Wollongong (UOW), he found.

The researchers found that, on a global average, there were four times as many advertisements for unhealthy products as those for healthy ones and that the frequency of such advertisements was 35% higher during peak viewing times for children.

I study, Posted in Reviews on Obesity, examined television advertising data from 22 countries in the Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe and North, South and Central America regions.

Twenty-three research groups contributed to the study, which examined 11,191 hours of television data between 2008 and 2017. The advertisements were encoded using the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations on which food and beverages should be allowed or not allowed to be advertised on children.

The WHO recommends that children not be exposed to marketing that aims to sell chocolate, sweets, cakes, sweet cookies, juices or energy drinks. The organization also recommends that products rich in total fat, saturated fat, trans fats, total sugars, added sugars, non-sugary sweeteners, salt and / or energy are not advertised on children.

During peak viewing periods, the volume of advertisements for unhealthy products was higher in countries with industrial codes of conduct than in countries where such policies did not exist.

This, the researchers suggested, highlighted the need for governments around the world to adopt regulations to protect children from television advertising of products that undermine their health.

The lead author, associate professor Bridget Kelly, of the UOW, stated that the food industry self-regulation codes to limit children's exposure to harmful advertising were "ineffective, to global level ".

He indicated a great deal of evidence showing that unhealthy food and beverage marketing for children has "a negative influence on children's food knowledge, preferences, consumption, quality of diet and health" .

The presence of advertisements during the peak hours of the children was on the WHO's agenda for some time. In 2010, the member states of the OMS, including Australia, approved a resolution limit the marketing of food and beverages with a high content of saturated fats, trans fats, free sugars and / or sodium for children and adolescents. To date, this has mostly been addressed by industry self-regulation programs.

The measures were designed, in part, to address concerns about the increasing rate of childhood obesity worldwide. Globally, almost one in five between the ages of 5 and 19 was overweight or obese in 2016 and the prevalence of obesity in young people has increased 10-fold in the last 40 years.

In the study sample, one third of all food and beverage advertising came from only ten companies, with a combined market value of over $ 1,400 billion. The globalized nature of the food industry and processed vegetables and the dominance of a number of transnational corporations "represents an obstacle to more effective regulation," the researchers noted.

Professor Kelly noted that companies that have contributed the most to unhealthy food marketing on TV have penetrated all markets and media and are "large and powerful multinational corporations, with a strong political drive" that, in her opinion, affect the ability and willingness of governments to regulate and protect children.

I study Global benchmarking of children's exposure to television advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages in 22 countries has been published in Reviews on Obesity is you can log in here

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