Sweets: No more advertising for kids?

WHO calls for restriction of sweets advertising

Planned bans in Spain and the UK show that more and more countries are getting serious. But while, for example, more than 40 countries around the world have introduced a tax on sweet drinks – also known as a tax on carbonated beverages – a binding ban on the advertising of sweets has hardly been implemented. But Spanish Consumer Minister Alberto Garzón is concerned: “Advertising encourages children to consume these products. And scientists agree it is bad for their health. ” The governments of Spain and the United Kingdom are doing what specialist organizations such as the WHO (World Health Organization) have been demanding for years.

In fact, according to government figures, 41 percent of children between the ages of six and nine in Spain are overweight. The trend is visible all over the world. According to the WHO, the number of overweight people is increasing, and their percentage has almost doubled since 1975. Corona strengthens this trend.

Problem: More and more overweight children

The advertising ban in Spain targets people under the age of 16 and will apply at times when children and adolescents will use more media. The products in question may no longer be advertised on children’s channels at all.

A similar scenario in Great Britain: there is a tax here not only on sweet drinks. The British Ministry of Health announced that from the beginning of 2022, TV commercials for soft drinks, breakfast cereals with sugar or burgers may only be broadcast after 9:00 PM. It’s even tougher on the Internet: manufacturers can no longer place paid ads for their unhealthy products on the Internet. Only their own channels, such as websites and social media, are exempt from the ban.

Logical step: incidentally, advertising of unhealthy food has been banned on London public transport for several years.

The age limit has been raised from 12 to 14 years old

Contrary to many other countries, things are progressing in Germany in small steps – although the postulate of banning the marketing of children is also not new to us. The advertising industry recently made a voluntary commitment to raise the age limit for existing requirements from twelve to fourteen.

Accordingly, advertising aimed at children under the age of 14 must not contain any direct requests to buy or consume. The Central Union of the German Advertising Industry (ZAW) emphasizes that the new regulations should apply to all forms of advertising content, directly also to cooperation with influencers in social networks.

They demanded the SPD, the Greens and the FDP

For many doctors, diabetologists and consumer protection organizations, this is not enough. They are demanding a clear ban on advertising unhealthy foods aimed at children from the new federal government. “Protecting children must take precedence over the profit interests of the candy and fast food industry,” says Saskia Reinbeck of Foodwatch. The voluntary actions of producers are not suitable for this. The example of Spain shows this. Since 2005, there have been comparable commitments that appear to have failed.

Chile’s fight against sugar and obesity

A look at Chile shows that it can work. The country has some of the most far-reaching advertising restrictions in the world – so much so that a chocolate product popular with children has even been banned due to misleading advertising.

That said, processed foods and drinks that exceed certain limits on sugar, salt, saturated fat, and energy cannot be advertised in Chile – including to children. The ban also applies to all media and formats in which the share of children among users is over 20%, as well as all ads that, due to their design, primarily attract children – both on the Internet, in social media and in magazines. and direct mail.

There is no colorful cartoon tiger on the package

In addition, in Chile, city outdoor advertising is prohibited near schools. And the advertising restrictions also apply to the packaging design. A colorful cartoon tiger can not be found here on any package of breakfast cereals. Instead, there are black warning labels on the respective products. Conversely, there is all the rage as more and more comic book heroes are now being packaged on healthier alternatives.

These measures are paying off and it is evident that children have been exposed to television commercials for unhealthy food by half as often since the legislation was enacted in 2016. In 2018, the University of Santiago learned that the consumption of chocolate and cookies had not changed noticeably.

However, it should be emphasized that the purchase of sweet drinks decreased by 25%, and sweet muesli by 9%. At the same time, research shows that food companies have restricted the sugar content of their products due to the law so as not to be considered a black sheep.

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