Expert meeting on monitoring of digital marketing of unhealthy foods (HFSS) and beverages, alcohol and tobacco to children and adolescents

5–6 June, WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, Moscow, Russian Federation

WHO/Europe is organizing a meeting to extend its efforts to monitor and contain inappropriate online marketing targeted at children. The meeting will pave the way to a new tool designed specifically to monitor digital marketing to children and young people, and will hopefully lead to its pilot implementation in several countries in the WHO European Region.

The meeting will be attended by a number of experts in the field, including representatives of several top-ranking United Kingdom and Australian universities (including the Oxford University, University of Liverpool, and University of Stirling), European research institutions and big information technology stakeholders.

Scope and purpose

This meeting will discuss how to use new technologies to quantify and monitor digital marketing aimed at children and young people using digital media techniques such as social media (Facebook, Twitter), online games, augmented reality, virtual environments, behavioural and/or personal profiling, location targeting and mobile marketing. It is expected that this proposed new tool will be able to automatically search selected product images or brand logos online and create a database.

The aim of the meeting is to gather selected experts to share the latest knowledge in this field and develop proposals to:

  • introduce a tool for monitoring of digital marketing to children and young people;
  • pilot the proposed tool in several countries to understand how it could be used by governments to monitor and regulate digital marketing of unhealthy products to children and young people.


The outcomes of the meeting are expected to be as follows:

  • a meeting report describing the approaches available to monitor the digital marketing of unhealthy products to children and adolescents;
  • a draft proposal to develop a tool to monitor digital marketing of foods high in saturated fat, sugar or salt (HFSS), alcohol and tobacco products to be piloted in the countries of the European Region.
  • a proposal/protocol on how to pilot the proposed new tool in selected countries.


There is unequivocal evidence that marketing of HFSS foods influences childhood obesity. WHO has already implemented a number of initiatives to help tackle the problem and explicitly called on Member States to introduce comprehensive restrictions on marketing of those foods to children in all media, including digital. Marketing of alcohol products, cigarettes and new tobacco products is also targeting children and young people. In the WHO European Region, the European Commission and individual WHO Member States are also taking policy measures to protect children and young people from digital marketing.

Most important, and least well known or understood at the moment, is how the marketers can collect consumer data and target advertising more precisely than ever before. WHO/Europe aims to provide further support for Member States to increase the current level of awareness about the extent of use and to develop national capacity to monitor digital marketing.

For more information, please contact Kremlin Wickramasinghe,; or Marina Bykova,