Bi-regional workshop to build legal capacity and advance action on WHO recommendations on the marketing of food and non-alcoholic beverages to children

Nana Touré

WHO, in collaboration with the University of Liverpool (United Kingdom), organized a training course on legislative approaches to address food marketing to children on 10–13 June 2015 in Amman, Jordan. The workshop trained public health officials, legal experts and consumer organizations in legal issues underpinning the implementation of existing WHO recommendations and guidance in this area.

After the workshop, participating teams from countries will have:

  • an enhanced understanding of the WHO recommendations to regulate marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children;
  • built basic knowledge and capacity of public health community (public health officials, legal and consumer organizations) on the legal issues involved in the implementation of the WHO "Set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children";
  • shared experiences of good practices in the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, and created or strengthened association/ coalition/ movement on approaches to reduce foods high in fat, sugar and salt, targeting children; and
  • discussed and developed further plans to progress the implementation of the set of recommendations.

As a bi-regional initiative, coordinated by WHO headquarters between the WHO regional offices for Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, the workshop welcomed a number of participants from European Member States.

Background

In the last decade, recognition of the importance of addressing food marketing to children has increased. The Political Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, calls on Member States to promote the implementation of the WHO "Set of recommendation on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children" endorsed in resolution WHA63.14 in order to discourage the marketing of foods that can contribute to unhealthy diets and the risk of overweight and obesity. This mandate has since been reflected at the regional level in the Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020 and the European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020.

The European Food and Nutrition Action Plan highlights the importance of addressing food marketing to children through strong measures, in light of evidence that food marketing influences children's food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns, and it urges Member States to fully implement the set of recommendations.

As part of its mandate, WHO Europe has been working with Member States to identify the best processes of implementing the set of recommendations. "A framework for implementing the set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children" was developed, and WHO/Europe has been engaged in a range of initiatives at regional level in order to promote the implementation of these recommendations, including via the WHO action network on reducing marketing pressure on children. In addition, 11 Member States from the WHO European Region attended a Countrywide Integrated Noncommunicable Disease Intervention (CINDI) workshop devoted to the development of national policies restricting the marketing of food and alcoholic beverages, held in October 2014 in Porto, Portugal.

Opportunities to replicate this training for more Member States of the European Region will be explored.