Health groups call for stronger controls on junk food advertising

08:37, July 14, 2010      

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Health groups on Tuesday called for tougher controls to protect children from commercial inducements to eat unhealthy food at the ongoing 11th International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm.

"We have known for a decade that the heavy marketing of energy dense foods and the promotion of fast food outlets is a likely risk for obesity, and children are a prime target, according to WHO information," said Dr. Tim Lobstein, research director of the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) at a press conference here.

"The food and soft drink companies have made some concessions in order to avoid tougher rules, but tough rules are what are needed," Lobstein said.

In a research about how the European countries regulate marketing to children, the IASO report revealed that two-thirds of the 53 countries in the region have official policies on the need to restrict the promotion of unhealthy food to children, a dramatic increase compared with five years ago.

"But most countries are depending on self-regulation by industry and only a few have brought in specific statutory measures," Lobstein told reporters.

"This cannot be dealt with one country at a time, too much marketing creeps in through satellite TV, Internet, advertising embedded in videos and games, and sponsored international events," Lobstein said.

He said companies are moving away from TV advertising and toward child-oriented Internet sites, developing social networking and viral marketing using product placement in films and games, direct mobile phone marketing and other means of reaching children without parents' knowledge.

He called on governments to put pressure on companies to change their practices.

The week-long obesity congress, which ends on Thursday, discussed scientific findings not only on obesity but also on how community intervention can help especially to prevent children from being obese.

Source: Xinhua


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