Unhealthy food advertising aimed at children

Unhealthy food advertising aimed at children

More than forty organizations from different fields have presented the Defend me campaign to demand a regulatory system with the force of law that guarantees that the child population can only be exposed to advertising of healthy foods and beverages.

With this alliance formed byFood Justice,the Spanish Society of Public Health (SESPAS),the Spanish Confederation of Associations of Parents of Students (CEAPA), Friends of the Earth, Medicus Mundi Y Ecologists in ActionIt seeks to protect the rights of children to health and free development of the personality, avoiding the harmful effect of advertising. The manifesto has also been supported bymore than forty member organizations, among which are: the Spanish Interdisciplinary Committee for Cardiovascular Prevention, the Spanish Society of General and Family Physicians (SEMG), the Spanish Association against Cancer, the Rural Platform, the Community Nursing Association, the General Council of the Psychology or the NGO Coordinator.

The Director of Food Justice,Javier Guzman, has asked the public administration to change its strategy in the fight against childhood obesity and the problems of poor diet and"Assume that leaving it in the hands of the companies themselves has been a huge mistake." “We need public policies that protect children from the uncontrolled bombardment of unhealthy food advertising”, has claimed.

80% of foods and beverages advertised with positive health and nutritional claims are actually unhealthy

Girls and boys: the most vulnerable population

In Spain, boys and girls see 25 television advertisements for food and beverages per day, most of which are unhealthy. During childhood we are not able to identify advertising nor are we aware of its commercial or persuasive objective. Until the age of 12, human beings lack the cognitive maturity necessary to be skeptical of commercial messages, considering them true, fair and accurate when they are not always so. Children continue to choose advertised products with preference, even when they are advised by adults to choose healthier ones. Food advertising is often misleading for adults as well, as up to 80% of foods and beverages that are advertised with positive health and nutritional claims are actually unhealthy. "Families demand that health be above the economic interests of the food industry," he emphasizedLeticia Cardenal, president of CEAPA.

Apply the nutritional profile marked by the WHO

The vast majority of food advertising that is broadcast refers to unhealthy products, contributing to the development of obesity - 45% of the boys and girls in the State are overweight or obese - and its complications in childhood, with the consequent increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer in the future. “Advertising of unhealthy food and beverages is one of the main causes of the childhood obesity epidemic that we suffer in Spain, and this is due to the lack of effectiveness of the current regulation to protect our sons and our daughters. The proposal we make is cost-effective, promotes healthy environments, protects a vulnerable population, helping boys and girls to eat healthy, reduces social inequalities in health, increases individual freedom of choice for parents and has the support of scientists, health professionals and consumers ”, has concludedMiguel Angel Royo, representative of SESPAS.

To select healthy products, the advertising of which would be permissible, it is proposed to apply the nutritional profile of the European region proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to fight obesity. The scope of the law must cover all advertising media and, in particular: television, film and radio; print media and outdoor advertising spaces (billboards, means of transport, etc.), Internet, video game applications for advertising purposes (advergames), mobile telephony and sponsorships (congresses, conferences, parties, etc.). This type of regulation already works in other countries, such as Chile, which not only covers advertising but also puts an end to confusing and misleading labeling.

In Spain, children see 25 food and drink advertisements on television a day, most of which are unhealthy

Self-regulation doesn't work

The Code of Self-Regulation of Food Advertising Directed to Minors (PAOS) ​​regulates this matter in the Spanish State. This code, by its very nature and because it was created by the companies themselves, is incapable of protecting children from the harmful effect of food advertising. Self-regulation and co-regulation, as has been shown in many studies, tend to be ineffective in their practical application. Besides, andl PAOS Code does not regulate the nutritional profile of advertised productsnor the frequency of exposure, contrary to the recommendations of WHO expert groups and consumer organizations. Likewise, it contravenes the provisions of the Food Safety and Nutrition Law by restricting its application to children under 12 years of age in audiovisual and printed media, instead of the 15 years established by said law. Given this, to demand real limitations and defend children's health, the campaign has been launchedDefend me, in order to eliminate the advertising of foods that are bad for the health of the child population.

For more information visit

Source:Ecologists in Action

Video: Marketing To Children (January 2022).