WHO aims to protect children from aggressive marketing on unhealthy foods

16 November 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published a comprehensive set of guidelines aimed at promoting healthier eating habits among children under 18 years old.

These guidelines recommend that countries worldwide apply policies to regulate the marketing of foods high in saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, and/or salt (HFSS foods) to children. In particular, the WHO recommends that these regulations. The recommendations also suggest that these policies should be global to reduce the marketing risk in other media to a minimum. This set of principles provides all the necessary components for the development of healthy diets. Food marketing has a strong influence on younger target audiences through the use of marketing strategies that engage and connect with children and influence their food choices and dietary selections.

Thirteen years have passed since the WHO published policy recommendations to restrict the marketing of high-fat and high-sugar foods to children. The new package builds on the WHO’s 2010 recommendations. The changes cover the progression of new marketing media and techniques, recent evidence on the effectiveness of policies and different policy approaches, and inadequate efforts by countries to prioritise implementation.

At SAFE Food Advocacy Europe, we place a paramount emphasis on promoting healthy nutrition, with a particular focus on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable members of society, notably children. Recognising the critical role that access to accurate food information plays in shaping dietary habits, we have actively advocated for the cessation of aggressive marketing practices targeting unhealthy foods.

Our commitment extends beyond mere advocacy, as we have implemented nutrition training initiatives specifically designed to educate children about the importance of making informed and health-conscious food choices. These initiatives not only provide valuable information on nutrition but also serve as a crucial platform for warning children about the potential pitfalls of aggressive marketing strategies employed by the food industry.