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Pic: GettyImages/Hallgerd
new research across Europe argues children space falling through the gaps of regulation aimed at preventing childhood obesity.

The promotion of sugary drinks and also unhealthy foods items is monitored, to part extent, in a growing variety of countries throughout Europe.

You are watching: Fast food advertising and childhood obesity

Under current legislation in the UK, because that example, food and drink suppliers are banned from promoting assets high in fat, street or salt (HFSS) on children’s television, or on any type of media channel, v an audience of an ext than 25% under-16s.

In Ireland, HFSS assets cannot it is in advertised throughout TV and also radio programmes wherein over 50% that the audience are under 18s. And also in Sweden, TV declaring of HFSS products is banned throughout programmes appeal to kids under 12.

The aim, for all countries that have imposed voluntary or obligated policies, is to curb climbing childhood excessive weight rates.

Yet according to fresh study out the Spain and also Slovenia, also legally binding steps – together they at this time stand – are not strict sufficient to stop childhood obesity.

Childhood obesity: a farming problem

The human being Health company (WHO) defines overweight and obesity together abnormal or too much fat buildup that might impair health.

Globally, both problems are top top the rise. Obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, and also according come 2016 figures, over 340 million children and teens aged 5-19 were overweight or obese.

Advertising is recognised as one of the components that contributes come an obesogenic environment. As a result, junk food bans have garnering boosted attention on the international stage.

In January of this year, the civilization Cancer Research money (WCRF) publicly called on governments to border junk food marketing​. According to the not-for-profit, advertising affects children eating and drinking behaviour, preferences, requests, nutrition knowledge and food intake.

Citing ahead research​, the WCRF noted that city hall 4.4 minute of food advertising can lead to kids eating 60 additional calories a day. Eat as little as 46 extra calories every day have the right to lead come excess load in children​, the not-for-profit continued.


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The adhering to month, the WHO-Lancet Commission suggest a global, legally binding protocol​ to stop brands marketing fast foods and sugary drinks to youngsters – i beg your pardon it explained as ‘predatory advertising practices’.

According to the Commission, together businesses make ‘huge profits’ native marketing junk food and sugar-sweetened beverages – which space the exact same unhealthy food items well-known to be significant causes the non-communicable diseases.

If the protocol were included to the UN Convention that the legal rights of the son (CRC), abiding national governments would it is in responsible because that prohibiting businesses indigenous targeting heralding to kids within their individual countries.

Case study: Spain

In Spain, junk food consumption amongst children is of severe concern. Eighty-one percent of kids drink sugar-sweetened beverages and soft drinks weekly, through the nation ranking fifth amongst European nations for childhood obesity.

The country has, likewise to the UK, Ireland, and also Sweden, an declaring regulatory frame for weight problems prevention: the PAOS Code.

The PAOS password is self-regulatory, and monitors junk food advertising on television aimed at children 12 years old and also under, and also internet declaring targeting children under-15.

The password was an initial established in 2005 and also improved top top in 2012. A total of 44 providers adhered to the new Code – representing around 95% that the sector’s advertising investments.


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Given Spain’s elevated childhood excessive weight rates, and also acknowledging the function that junk food advertising have the right to play in contributing to obesogenic environments, researchers in Barcelona seek to uncover links between the two.

Published critical month in the International newspaper of environmental Research and also Public Health​, the study associated longitudinally the nutritional values of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and also soft drinks (SDs) with advertising strategies between 2013 and 2018.

"The target of this examine is to uncover associations between advertisements because that SSBs and also SDs in different media (TV, leaflets, radio, Internet, etc.), the language used, and also the products" low nutritional value,”​ provided authors Mireia Montaña from the open University that Catalonia and Mònika Jiménez indigenous Pompeu Fabra University.

“To carry out so, we selected campaigns carried the end by the top 10 carriers in these categories in between 2013 and 2018 in Spain.”

A mixed-methods approach

The research analysed a full of 78 products that featured in 4956 advertisements across radio, internet, television, press, magazines, outdoor, and also cinema.

The researchers provided a ‘mixed-methods’ technique that included a quantitative evaluation of advertising spend data, a content analysis and a study of the discursive strategies used in the advertisements.

The Nutri-Score system was also applied by the researchers, in stimulate to determine the nutritional quality of the beverages.

Nutri-Score ranks foodstuffs from -15 because that the ‘healthiest’ product come +40 because that those that space ‘less healthy’. ~ above the communication of this score, the product obtain a letter v a corresponding colour code: native dark green (A) come dark red (F).


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Advertising goals at odds with children’s health?

The outcomes were analysed considering the PAOS strategy, to recognize whether advertisers who clearly expressed their adherence to the Code used the regulation to the proclaiming language and messaging used.

According to the researchers, the main results pointed come an association in between low nutritional value beverage advertisements and a discourse based upon hedonistic elements.

“Results indigenous this study display that 81% of the declaring spending for sugar-sweetened beverages SSBs and also SDs in Spain goes to commodities of low (D) or very low nutritional quality (E).

“Despite the companies responsible because that these SSBs and also SDs launching healthy versions of standard drinks (e.g., light, zero, etc.) come the industry (according to the Nutri-Score system), the fact is that spending continues to focus on those with the shortest nutritional values.”

Concerning language use, happiness, the capability to do friends, and also standing out from the rest of the group, were amongst the discursive aspects observed.

“Adventure, pleasure, friendship, happiness, success and also fun were few of the concepts originating indigenous the language that showed up in the advertisements showing products with a low or a very low nutritional value.

“In this sense, the language that was provided in the ads had actually connotations the prestige and the acquiring of details abilities or greater social acceptance. The consistent allusion to elements like happiness, strength, power and also victory were generally highlighted together a advantage of the beverage in most of the advertisements,”​ the researchers noted.

Tighter advertising regulation required

Such findings led Montaña and Jiménez to imply that this companies’ declaring goals may be at odds through children’s health.

The language supplied in the Spanish advertisements of SSBs and also SDs through low nutritional worth ‘in no way’ aided prevent obesity amongst children, they noted. “In fact, the opposite means is true: castle promoted good experiences and positive emotions as a purchase benefit.”

Therefore, in Spain, tighter proclaiming regulations are required to reduce and prevent childhood obesity, suggested the researchers. The measures right now applied, lock said, space ‘insufficient’.

“Almost all heralding spending on SSBs and also SDs go to commodities with short or non-existent nutritional values. In addition, the regulatory frame related to the heralding of food and also beverages that is used in Spain has consistent gaps, beginning with the truth that the service providers supporting the PAOS code, and also showing one initial commitment come respecting the regulation framework included therein, constantly hurt it in their declaring strategies.”


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For Montaña and Jiménez, a better involvement that the Spanish beverage sector – as well as advertisers and also agencies – is necessary to do the self-regulation of proclaiming content ‘truly effective’ in the fight against childhood obesity.

Case study: children in Slovenia autumn through regulation gaps

Fresh research assessing children’s exposure come food marketing on television in Slovenia suggests comparable findings.

In 2017, Slovenia embraced regulations to restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods and also beverages throughout designated children’s tv programming.

A team of researcher in Slovenia and also Australia sought to evaluate the impact these regulations have had actually on children’s exposure to food advertising – including throughout children’s programmes and at optimal viewing times because that children.

A full of 6479 food advertisements broadcast between 2016 and 2018 were analysed through the researchers. These adverts played on the 5 most popular television networks for kids aged 4-9 years.

Their findings to be a blended bag. “The new Slovenian food marketing regulation have decreased the advertising of unhealthy foods during children’s programmes,” ​the researchers noted.

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“However, children viewership rates are likewise high exterior of this designated programming and, as such, children’s overall exposure come unhealthy food heralding is unlikely to have actually been reduced significantly by the regulations.”

There, the researcher propose the future policy interventions it is in tighter – come cover not just children’s programmes but additionally broadcasting periods that incorporate the best numbers of boy viewers.

Source:International newspaper of eco-friendly Research and Public Health​‘Soft Drinks and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages declaring in Spain: Correlation in between Nutritional Values and also Advertising Discursive Strategies’Published 30 march 2020DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072335 Authors: Mireia Montaña Blasco and also Mònika Jiménez-Morales

Source:Appetite​‘Regulating children exposure to food marketing ~ above television: space the restrictions throughout children’s programmes enough?’Published 6 June 2020DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2020.104752Authors: ŽivaLavriša, Hristo Hristov, Bridget Kelly, and IgorPravst