Food marketing to children and salt reduction: focus of WHO/Europe action network meetings

Antonia Trichopoulou

Participants at the WHO Action Network on Reducing Marketing Pressure on Children

The Norwegian Directorate of Health, in collaboration with WHO/Europe, organized and chaired the 10th Meeting of the WHO European Action Network on reducing marketing pressure on children in Athens, Greece, on 15–16 June 2015. The European Salt Action Network (ESAN) met on 16–17 June 2015 and was kindly coordinated and chaired by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. Representatives of more than 14 Member States of the WHO European Region joined participants from the WHO Secretariat, academia and civil-society organizations and attended both meetings.

At the first meeting, participants discussed the use of nutrient profiling tools when developing and implementing policies to reduce food marketing to children, including the WHO/Europe nutrient profile model. It also examined opportunities for countries to move towards a common set of indicators for monitoring children's overall exposure to food marketing and the types of persuasive techniques in use by food and advertising companies. The meeting also focused on the emerging challenge of monitoring and restricting online marketing to which children are exposed.

Topics addressed during the ESAN meeting included using healthy choice logos on the front of packages to identify low-salt options, expanding salt reformulation efforts to new product categories and mapping inequalities in salt intake. ESAN discussed new areas including the availability of data on the price of low-salt options and opportunities for reformulation focused on other nutrients (e.g. sugar and saturated fats) in the context of existing reformulation initiatives.

Both meetings were kindly hosted by the Hellenic Health Foundation at the Hellenic Pasteur Institute in Athens, Greece. At the WHO European Action Network on reducing marketing pressure on children meeting, the Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Athens was designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Nutrition and Health in recognition of longstanding collaboration.