Thursday

21st Jan 2021

Letter

Childhood obesity: Time to put words into action

  • On 25 April, the European Parliament's CULT committee will vote on a proposal to revise the AVMSD, which includes provisions governing commercial communications for HFSS foods and alcoholic beverages to children and minors.

MEPs from all parties have repeatedly voiced their concerns about the rising levels of childhood overweight and obesity and the alarming levels of youth binge drinking that persist in Europe today.

Yet, when the opportunity arises to put declarations into action, the response falls short.

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The draft report of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) has at various instances even weakened the Commission proposal, which is striking given that the European Parliament is support to represent the interests of Europe's people.

On 25 May 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal to revise the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which includes provisions governing commercial communications for foods high in fat, sugar, and salt (HFSS foods) and alcoholic beverages to children and minors.

Any realistic attempt to tackle child obesity and alcohol harm in youth must reduce children's and adolescents' exposure to marketing.

It is well-established that advertising influences consumption patterns – especially for children – by increasing overall consumption of the product category advertised, and not just of a certain brand.

Nevertheless, the co-rapporteurs of the CULT committee propose to delete the one article that explicitly addresses the marketing of HFSS food.

Effective rules to limit exposure to health-harmful marketing, including restrictions on advertising during peak viewing hours and on sponsorship and product placement, will protect minors and empower parents in their efforts to educate children about healthy lifestyles.

Self-regulation has failed to achieve this result.

To ensure that front-runner governments can take firm action, they should be able to limit broadcasts from other countries on public health grounds.

It is also strongly recommend that the CULT committee adopts the World Health Organisation's nutrient profile model as the mechanism by which to define HFSS foods.

The members of this coalition of health organisations draw attention to the evidence we have repeatedly presented on the links between marketing and health, and highlight that with the AVMSD, the CULT committee have a once in a decade opportunity to protect the well-being of Europe's future generations.

European Heart Network

European Alcohol Policy Alliance

European Centre for monitoring Alcohol Marketing

International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies – AIM

IOGT-NTO

European Public Health Alliance

European Association for the study of the liver

Standing Committee of European Doctors

British Medical Association

Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems

Institute of Alcohol Studies

European Kidney Health Alliance

Alcohol Action Ireland

United European Gastroenterology

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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