Country workshop in Poland on policies to restrict the marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children

WHO/Europe facilitated a workshop on restricting food marketing to children on 23–25 November 2015 in Warsaw, Poland. The workshop formed part of the implementation of the biennial collaboration agreement between the Ministry of Health of Poland and WHO/Europe. It was attended by government officials in addition to public health expert experts, and representatives of consumer organizations, the media and broadcasting authorities.

Topics addressed during the workshop include:

  • the role of evidence for food marketing policies and existing WHO recommendations
  • analysis of current regulatory and self-regulatory approaches from across Europe
  • key tools for developing and implementing marketing restrictions including:
    • nutrient profiling tools
    • monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

Background

In May 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a set of WHO recommendations on food marketing to children through resolution WHA63.14. The recommendations clearly acknowledge the relationship between food marketing and childhood obesity, and call on Member States to restrict the marketing to children of food and non-alcoholic beverages, which are high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt.

This call was reiterated in:

  • the WHO Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013–2020
  • the Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020
  • the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020.

Call for strong measures to reduce impact of marketing on children

In particular, regional policy frameworks call for the establishment or expansion of strong measures to reduce the overall impact on children of all forms of marketing of foods high in fat salt and sugar (HFSS). These measures will have the effect of reducing the power of the communication techniques used and children's overall exposure to marketing of these foods.

The leading categories of food currently advertised in Europe are dominated by HFSS foods, such as savoury snacks, fast-food, breakfast cereals, sugar-sweetened beverages and confectionary. At present, television remains the dominant medium for promotional marketing of foods and beverages, but it is only one of many media, including the internet and social networks, through which advertisers are now able to promote products, build brand awareness and generate consumer loyalty in a more integrated approach.

Government leadership and independent monitoring needed

WHO/Europe continues to support Member States in this area. Experience suggests that self-regulatory, voluntary approaches have loopholes, and government leadership is required to establish the criteria for policy. Independent monitoring is also necessary to ensure progress in strengthening and expanding controls over time, with independent complaints procedures and sanction mechanisms.