WHO asks governments to report on policies limiting the impact of "HFSS" product marketing to kids


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On 9 November, the WHO released a set of voluntary global targets for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) calling on national governments to report -among others- on policies to reduce the impact of food and drink marketing to children for products high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt (HFSS products).

The voluntary targets were agreed during a formal meeting of UN Member States which took place in Geneva from 5 to 7 November 2012, as part of the endorsement of a comprehensive global monitoring framework.

The session was attended by representatives from 119 Member States, intergovernmental and regional organizations and 17 nongovernmental organizations.

Among the 25 indicators to monitor trends and to assess progress made in the implementation of strategies and plans on NCDs, the WHO lists: “Policies to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt”.

The draft framework notes that a number of countries have already started to implement the May 2010 WHO Recommendations on the Marketing of Food and Non-alcoholic Beverages to Children. These include Ireland, Malaysia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The framework document insists on the relevance of decreasing the impact of the marketing of such products on children: “Evidence also shows that television advertising influences children's food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns. Television advertising is gradually being complemented by a mix of marketing communications that focus on branding and building relationships with consumers. Food marketing to children is now a global phenomenon and tends to be pluralistic and integrated, using multiple messages in multiple channels.”.

The global monitoring framework will be discussed by the WHO Executive Board during its 132nd session in January 2013.

WHO aims at developing a global action plan 2013-2020 for the prevention and control of NCDs which will be submitted to the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly for consideration and adoption in May 2013.

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