IASO Urges Tougher Standards for Food Marketing to Children
The International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) has released a July 2010 report on the PolMark Project, a survey commissioned by the European Union to examine how member states regulate food and beverage marketing to children. According to IASO, “The researchers found that two-thirds of the 53 countries in the region now have official policies on the need to restrict the promotion of unhealthy food to children, a dramatic increase since a similar survey five years earlier. However, most countries are depending on self-regulation by industry and only a few have brought in specific statutory measures.”
The report apparently notes that 92 percent of key stakeholders interviewed in 11 countries “believed there was a link between advertising and child obesity.” In addition, (i) two-thirds “believed current controls on marketing to children were not strong enough”; (ii) more than 80 percent “thought that restrictions on advertising for certain types of programs would be acceptable”; and (iii) “[m]ost interviewees favored protecting children up to 12 years of age and just over half supported protection up to 16 years.” Health and consumer groups also purportedly expressed “frustration” that regulators seemed reluctant to “challenge commercial interests.”
IASO has urged the European Union to encourage international standards for food and beverage marketing. “This cannot be dealt with one country at a time—too much marketing creeps in through satellite TV, Internet, advertising embedded in video games, and sponsored international events,” stated IASO Research Director Tim Lobstein. “Now companies are moving away from TV advertising and towards child-oriented Internet sites, developing social networking and viral marketing, using product placement in films and games, direct mobile phone marketing and other means of reaching children without parents’ knowledge.” See IASO Press Release, July 2010.