WHO Europe calls for tougher rules on food marketing to children

The recommendations are part of an initiative to curb childhood obesity.

World Health Organization’s (WHO) Europe office called for greater restriction on the marketing of fat-, salt-, and sugar-laden foods to kids, calling such advertising “disastrously effective.” WHO’s report on food marketing says companies are using inexpensive new avenues like social media and smart phone apps to market directly to children, which contributes unduly to obesity and its accompanying health issues.

According to WHO’s Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, one of three children between six and nine years old is overweight or obese. “Overweight is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century: all countries are overweight to varying extents, particularly in the lower socioeconomic groups,” says Zsuzsanna Jakab, director of the WHO's regional unit for Europe. WHO Europe says specific restrictions should be in place for marketing foods high in fat, sugar or salt beyond the general regulations on marketing food to children signed by 53 European states.  

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