Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Progress Achieved in Restricting the Marketing of High-Fat, Sugary and Salty Food and Beverage Products to Children/ Progres Realises Pour Restreindre la Commercialisation D'aliments et De Boissons Riches En Graisses, En Sucre Ou En Sel Destines Aux Enfants/ Progresos Realizados En la Limitacion De la Promocion De Alimentos Y Bebidas Con Elevadas Cantidades De Grasa, Azucares Y Sal Dirigida a Los Ninos

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Progress Achieved in Restricting the Marketing of High-Fat, Sugary and Salty Food and Beverage Products to Children/ Progres Realises Pour Restreindre la Commercialisation D'aliments et De Boissons Riches En Graisses, En Sucre Ou En Sel Destines Aux Enfants/ Progresos Realizados En la Limitacion De la Promocion De Alimentos Y Bebidas Con Elevadas Cantidades De Grasa, Azucares Y Sal Dirigida a Los Ninos

Article excerpt

Introduction

In May 2010, the 192 Member States of the World Health Organization endorsed Resolution WHA63.14. The aim of this resolution is to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and non-alcoholic beverage products to children and adolescents to reduce the prevalences of overweight, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases. (1) Globally, about 42 million children younger than 5 years and 155-200 million school-aged children are overweight or obese. (2,3) Nearly 2.7 billion adults will be overweight or obese by 2025. (4) The rapid increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children in low- and middle-income countries has been described as a time bomb that could cause immense damage to health-care systems worldwide. (5)

We examined the actions taken, between 2010 and early 2016, by the World Health Organization (WHO)--via its headquarters and six regional offices--and other United Nations (UN) organizations to offer technical and policy guidance to Member States to implement Resolution WHA63.14. We subsequently assessed the extent of the same resolution's implementation by the national governments of Member States and investigated the supportive actions of relevant civil society organizations, philanthropic institutions and transnational industrial actors--e.g. food and beverage manufacturers, retailers, restaurant companies and industrial trade groups. We focused on actions designed to restrict young peoples exposure to the powerful and pervasive marketing of branded unhealthy food and non-alcoholic beverage products--i.e. products that are high in saturated fats, trans fatty acids, free sugars and/or salt. Below, we present the results of these investigations and suggest strategies and actions to accelerate the implementation of Resolution WHA63.14.

Marketing, diet and health risks

A robust evidence base accumulated between 2003 and 2013 demonstrated how the extensive and persistent exposure to the powerful marketing of unhealthy food and beverage products could affect the food and drink preferences and purchase requests of children and adolescents. (6-10) Rigorous reviews have documented how the often sophisticated and integrated marketing communications of transnational food and drink industries continue to influence the dietary behaviours of young people and contribute to energy-dense and nutrient-poor diets, increased risks of unhealthy weight gain and negative health outcomes. (7-10)

As they have a biological preference for sweet and salty tastes, infants and young children younger than 5 years are considered especially vulnerable to marketing practices that promote sugary and salty food and beverage products. (11) Childrens recognition of branded food logos increases with age (12) and overweight children are more likely to recognize the brands of fast food restaurants than those of other food and beverage products. (13) Compared with other children, those who recall branded unhealthy food and beverage products have stronger preferences for such products. (14) Children's knowledge of unhealthy food and beverage products increases their obesity risk. (15) Adolescents aged 12-18 years have more discretionary income than children and are uniquely susceptible to an immersive and evolving digital marketing landscape that normalizes unhealthy food and beverage products. (16) Such marketing is also associated with materialistic values and aspirational lifestyles that often have harmful impacts among young people. (17)

Technical and policy guidance

Following the adoption of Resolution WHA63.14, (1) WHO released 12 recommendations (18) that encouraged national governments to: (i) implement policies to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage products in settings where children spend time; (ii) reduce the impact of the cross-border marketing of such products; and (iii) monitor the nature and extent of the marketing of such products and the effectiveness of government regulations to restrict young peoples' exposure to--and the harmful impacts of--such marketing. …

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