NGO welcomes EU Pledge common nutritional criteria on food marketing to children


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The European Heart Network (EHN) has welcomed the EU Pledge common nutritional criteria on food marketing to children. In a report from 28 March entitled: "Reducing children's exposure to marketing of foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar: what would be the best nutrient profile model?” the EHN concludes that EU Pledge are an improvement compared with previous nutrient profile models used by industry.

In November 2012, EU Pledge signatories adopted a nutrient profiling system for food and beverages advertised to children under 12 which will apply as of the end of 2014 while the EHN's report was drafted as part of a commitment submitted by EHN in 2012 to the European Platform for action on diet, physical activity and health. The objective of the commitment is to investigate the potential for cross-sector agreement on nutrient profile for foods and drinks marketed to children that can be applied across Europe.

EHN asked the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at the University of Oxford to compare the EU Pledge common nutritional criteria to five current and proposed government and industry nutrient profile models which restrict food marketed to children:
  • The FSA/Ofcom model used for statutory restrictions in the UK and Ireland;
  • The model proposed by the Norwegian Government for a new regulation on the advertising of foods to children;
  • The model within the 'Code of responsible food marketing communication to children' of the Danish Forum of Responsible Food Marketing Communication;
  • The model used for the Swedish Keyhole labelling scheme (labelling only);
  • The model developed by the Choices International Foundation (labelling only);

Researchers found that the nutrient profile models varied considerably in how they have been constructed and that the EU Pledge was marginally stricter than the first four models listed above in relation to foods (but not advertisements) with only the Swedish Keyhole model being stricter.

However the report sounded a note of caution in conclusion: “[these results] do not necessarily mean that the EU Pledge Nutrition criteria are optimal or that they should form the basis for a nutrient profile model that is agreed for legislative or voluntary marketing restrictions throughout Europe.

For more information contact Simon Meehan.

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