Supplementary Memorandum by The Food Commission
In July 2003, the Food Commission published
a report on children's food marketing and its relationship to
patterns of disease around the world, entitled Broadcasting
Bad Health: Why food marketing to children needs to be controlled.
The report makes several references to marketing in schools,
including commercial activities in US and UK schools. I attach
relevant excerpts for the Committee's consideration as written
A copy of the full report (31 pages) is available on request from
In summary, the Food Commission is concerned
that whilst several admirable initiatives are underway in schools
to promote healthy eating and healthy lifestyles (either through
curricular or extra-curricular activities), these are undermined
by unhealthy food marketing targeted at schoolchildren, including:
Fatty and sugary foods and drinks
sold in vending machines.
Commercially sponsored educational
materials, giving skewed or partial information about nutrition
and health (usually for fatty and sugary snack products).
Commercial websites promoted as "educational",
giving skewed or partial information about nutrition and health
(usually for fatty and sugary snack products).
Free exercise books given to primary
and secondary schools, carrying advertising for sugared drinks
and fatty snacks.
Commercial snack tasting programmes
in schools, with children as young as four years old.
Free gifts sent to schools (including
fatty and sugary snack products), sometimes as a result of sponsorship
of healthy eating promotions such as breakfast clubs.
Token collection schemesnotably
Walkers Crisps Books for Schools (ongoing) and Cadbury's Get Active
Free Sports Kit 4 Schools scheme (launched 2003).
I look forward to attending the oral evidence
session of the Health Committee planned for 17 September 2003.
Thank you for this opportunity to participate.
Policy Officer, The Food Commission
BROADCASTING BAD HEALTH
A report by the Organisations for the WHO consultation
on a global strategy on diet and nutrition
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported
the rising incidence of obesity and chronic disease such as cardiovascular
disease, cancer and diabetes among the population worldwide. It
has also acknowledged the links between many of these diseases
and the pattern of food consumed.
However, as a WHO report
has noted, "these concepts have not led to a change in policies
or in practice".
Policy development must address matters most
likely to have a beneficial impact. To identify "potential
targets for interventions" the WHO report assessed the latest
scientific evidence on the nature and strength of the links between
diet and chronic diseases. On the evidence available, the report
classified as "probable" or "convincing":
The adverse effect of high intake
of energy-dense, low-nutrient foods.
The adverse effect of high intake
of sugar-sweetened beverages.
The adverse effect of heavy marketing
of energy-dense foods and fast-food outlets
Although referred to as "non-communicable"
diseases, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis,
dental caries and diabetes are communicated through the cultural
environmentfrom parents to children, from food corporations
to consumers, from industrialised country to less-industrialised
The present report, from the International Association
of Consumer Food Organizations (IACFO), gives a consumer perspective
on the extensive marketing of energy-dense, low-nutrient foods
around the world. It calls for internationally effective policies
that protect children from developing dietary habits that may
result in disease and premature death.
"Marketing approaches matter for public
health. They influence our ownand in particular our children'spatterns
of behaviour. Given that they are designed to succeed, they have
serious consequences for those at whom they are targeted."
Gro Harlem Brundtland. Director General of the
World Health Organisation (WHO), in an address to the 55th World
Health Assembly, 2002.
For every $1 spent by the WHO on trying to improve
the nutrition Fof the world's population, $500 is spent by the
food industry on promoting processed foods
By 2001, the world food-industry advertising budget was estimated
at $40 billion, a figure greater than the Gross Domestic Product
of 70% of the worlds nations
Manufacturers know that children are particularly
susceptible to the persuasion of advertising. Indeed, the Supreme
Court of Canadarecognised this in 1989, when it held that the
Quebec Consumer Protection Act's prohibition on advertising directed
at children under the age of 13 did not unduly limit constitutionally
protected free expression. The Court stated that: ". .
. advertising directed at youngchildren is per se manipulative.
Such advertising aims to promote products by convincing those
who will always believe
Specialist conferences now advise industry how
to develop sectionsof the children's market, and how to manipulate
the child's "pester power"known in the US as
the "nag factor" (see below).
Frequent exposure to marketing messages, along
with changes in social circumstances, such as children's increasingly
independent spending power, contribute to a nutritionally "toxic"
or "obesogenic" environmentthat is, environments
that predispose children to desire and be able to obtain and consume
certain foods, especially those that are energy-dense and low
In 2002 and 2003, reports by the investment
bank UBS Warburg
campaigns is to manipulate children to nag their parents for products.
This and the international share analyst JP Morgan
warned some of the top-spending food advertisers (including Hershey,
McDonald's. Tate & Lyle. Cadbury's, Pepsi Coca-Cola, Heinz
and Nestlé) that they may be contributing to the obesogenic
environment (see page 23). In 2002, Datamonitor had identified
food advertising targeted at children as successfully one of the
top five causes of childhood obesity
Some advertisers admit that an important factor
in their marketing campaigns is to manipulate children to nag
their parents for products. This full-page advert appeared in
the UK grocery trade press. It tells retailers that the strength
of a major UK brand for processed coated turkey shapes lies in
successfully harnessing pester power.
"Children are much easier to reach with
advertising. They pick up on it fast and quite often we can exploit
that relationship and get them pestering their parents."
Colegrave, S of Saatchi & Saatchi marketing
consultancy which specialises in marketing to children, quoted
in The Guardian (November 22, 1999) Should our children
be spared Ronald?
Foods are targeted at children and teenagers
by use of the "five Ps"Place, Price & Packaging,
Product Expansion, Promotions, and Public Relations.
Place: Making drinks available in vending machines
in schools, constant innovation and an increase cinemas, sporting
events, shopping malls and bus stations.
Price & Packaging: Selling drinks in packages
and at a price appealing to young people, often with sports or
Product expansion: Selling multiple flavours
of a soft drink.
Public Relations: Sponsoring TV shows, sports
and pop music events popular with children and teenagers: Donating
money to children's causes with education such as reading schemes.
Promotions: Using "child-friendly"
promotional figures to attract children; featuring animation and
celebrities in TV advertisements; running token-collecting schemes
in exchange for goods (see below); offering collectable toys for
young children, and competitions to win music equipment for teenagers;
running websites with games and prizes popular with children.
"The growth [in chocolate sales] has been
attributed to strong brands, constant innovation and an increase
in impulse snacking by consumers. Advertising and promotion [are]
crucial in maintaining these factors."
International Cocoa Organization (2000). www.icco.org
"We define marketing as anything we do
to create consumer demand for our brands."
Coca-Cola Company Annual Report (1995)
Advertisers are increasingly using schools as
a rich opportunity to Atarget children with their marketing messages.
The following pages give accounts from the US, Japan and the UKthe
three countries which attract the largest share of international
food marketing budgets (40%, 15.3% and 7.1% of the global total,
In the US, marketing in schools is entrenched,
well-financed, and highly sophisticated. Channel One, for instance,
is a key vehicle for these power delivering advertisements directly
to children as a captive audience, with schools paid (through
incentives and equipment) to broadcast the commercial Channel
One to children for a set time each day.
An audit of commercial activities in schools
was recently conducted by the US government's General Accounting
Office (see below).
which gives an insight into how children are systematically targeted
through schools, in a country with very permissive regulation
on marketing activities, and one of the highest obesity rates
in the world.
The GAO identified other pervasive and persuasive
examples of marketing to children in US schools including "pouring
rights"exclusive contracts between drinks companies
and school districtsto ensure that particular brands are
the only drinks available to children.
"Advertisers are appealing to ever young
audiences, those with the most years of buying power ahead of
them. To accomplish these goals, the snack food and soft-drink
industries subsidise public eduction, through direct advertising,
sponsored educational materials, contests and free samples, and
commercials on school television."
Editorial, The Lancet (2002) Vol 359,
"Every school day, Channel One is seen
by as many teens as the Super Bowl [8 million]. Channel One's
audience exceeds the combined number of teens watching anything
on television during Primetime. Huge ratings. Unsurpassed reach.
Unparalleled impact upon teen viewers."
Channel One sales literature (1996).
"Channel One is a marketer's secret weapon.
When used creatively by today's innovative marketers, it is an
unparalleled way to reach a massive teen audience in a highly
relevant, important and uncluttered environment."
Martin Grant, Channel One's President of Sales
and Marketing (1995).
Marketing in Schools: The UK
Unlike in the US the UK government has not made
an assessment of commercial activities nationally, so little data
is available about how much schools use or rely on commercial
materials to supplement state-funded catering, educational and
sports equipment. However, several recent examples of national
school-based promotions by food companies have been the subject
of media attention and public-health concern. In May 2003. the
UK's largest union of teachers voted to allow teachers to reject
future commercial schemes in school, despite government support
for such activities
Sponsored exercise books: many primary and secondary
schools in the UK accept commercially sponsored exercise books,
from the company Jazzy Media. The books are given free to children,
paid for by advertisementsfrom companies such as Pepsi (examples,
Cadbury's Sports Equipment for Schools: see
"Walkers Crisps: a long-running campaign
encourages children to collect tokens from crisp packets, so that
schools can exchange them for free books (Walkers Crisps is also
owned by Pepsi). One school reported it had to collect 10,400
crisp packets to exchange for 63 books
Product sampling: UK schools are offered money
to allow children to act as focus groups for food product sampling,
"with the implicit endorsement of school catering staff
(promotional leaflet, left).
In Japan, there are no commercial promotions
in schools. In public schools, as the Japanese Offspring Fund
consumer group reports. "No ads or coupons or commercial
materials are distributed to teachers or kids or parents. There
are no vending machines and students are not allowed to eat anything
other than school lunch (including drinks and chewing gum) when
they are in school and they are also not allowed to buy and eat
foods on their way between school and home."
The School Lunch Law in Japan sets a nutritional
standard for school lunches. Each school follows this law and
provides a well-balanced, low-fat, low-salt lunch of rice or bread,
soup, two to three side dishes, milk and dessert. Calories from
fat are set to be no more than 25-30% of the total calories of
the meal. The menu is given out to children and parents every
month, also providing details of the calories and nutritional
It is important to note that, as the Japan Offspring
Fund reports: since Japanese schools are not a conducive place
for advertising, marketing efforts in Japan are focused on TV
commercials and magazine advertisements, influencing what children
eat outside school.
Even where advertising is regulated (either
on a voluntary or statutory basis), regulators have rarely kept
pace with the rapidly changing advertising technologies, which
are of special interest to food companies wishing to target teenagers.
This is a market that is increasingly media savvy and has independent
New technologies, including the internet, internet
access via mobile phones, interactive TV. text messaging and email,
allow advertisers direct, usually unmonitored (parent-free). access
to children. Even in the countries where advertising to children
is restricted, such as Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. there
are no specific rules governing marketing via mobile phones.
Access to the internet is now widespread and
ever more accessible, via schools, public libraries. internet
cafés and at home. Many food companies are finding this
an attractive (and cost-effective) way of reaching young people
with their marketing messages.
Websites for the youth market typically feature
branded games, competitions, promotions, characters. sports sponsorship,
and "kids only" zones that enable children to interact
directly with the company, for instance voting on new flavours
or pack designs. As an industry report notes: "This approach
typifies a growing trend of below-the-line promotional activity
to encourage even more attempts to capitalise on the contemporary
child's interactive product expectations
Interactive websites provide the opportunity
to gather personal data on young people. In 2000, the ZapMe! corporation
supplied 2,000 US schools with computers and Internet access.
In return, it "reserved the contractual right to track
students' surfing habits individually
and data such as the students' age, gender and zip code, to supply
to advertisers. Through protests and media attention, a parent
and NGO coalition succeeded in preventing ZapMe! from operating
The use of mobile phones is also greatly on
the increase, bringing opportunities for promotional text messages.
A high proportion of young people own a mobile phone, including
63% of young Kenyans
90% of young people in the UK
88% in Finland
90% in Norway
and 16.5 million young Americans
"There is nothing else that exists like
[the internet] for advertisers to build relationships with kids."
Saatchi & Saatchi, marketing agency, 2002.
In 1997, a study of popular children's websites
90% collected children's personal
40% used free gifts and competitions
to get children's personal details;
25% sent children an email after
their visit to the site;
40% sent "cookies" to track
the child's use of the site.
Centre for Media Education. Online Advertising
Targeting Children, 1997.
Knowledge about food and nutrition comes from
a varity of sources, including from families, schools, advertising,
labelling and the media. The information from these sources is
influenced by behind-the-scenes activities of media-management
companies acting on behalf of the food industry, and by information-dissemination
groups funded by the industry. Such activities are designed to
ensure that food products and food groups are shown in the best
The International Life Science Institute (www.ilsi.org)
was co-founded in 1978 by food companies Heinz, Coca-Cola, Pepsi,
General Foods, Kraft and Procter & Gamble (and until 1991
directed by the vice-President of Coca-Cola)
An ILSI publication on the health effects of sugar consumption
states: "intake of sugars is inversely associated with
the prevalence of obesity" and comments on the need to
research the positive role of glucose in facilitating mental processes,
whilst downplaying the impact of freueni suar consumption on dental
health, and advocating tooth-brushing as the only realistic way
to address dental disease
ILSI's members include British Sugar plc, Ensuiko Sugar Refining
Co., Tate & Lyle Speciality Sweeteners and the confectioners
Mars uses its website to display fatty, sugary
Mars bars amidst pictures of blueberries, strawberries, grapes
and apples (below) to promote its message "certain chocolates
and cocoa may provide cardiovascular health benefits" from
antioxidants. The website www.cocoapro.com is publicised to customers
on millions of Mars confectionery wrappers.
A common theme promoted by the food industry
is that increased physical activity is the most important factor
in addressing the obesity epidemic, downplaying the role of diet.
McDonald's and Coca-Cola have both supported the Step With
It programme to encourage children to measure their walking
with a pedometer. In 2003, Cadbury's offered schoolchildren free
sports gear (see page 9) if they collected wrappers from chocolate
bars. This was described by Cadbury's as a way to help children
maintain a healthy bodyweight, but the total scheme required the
purchase of 160,000,000 chocolate bars (36 billion kilocalories
and nearly two million kg of fat)
The membership of the American Council for Fitness and Nutrition
includes McDonald's, Hershey, Coca-Cola, the Sugar Association
and the American Advertising Federation.
Also in the US, the "Freedom of Information
for Children" group lobbies on behalf of the advertising
g industry for freedom to advertise to children.
"To improve our diets, we should be eating
less fat and much more carbohydrate. Sugar, along with starchy
foods like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes, is an excellent source
"Experts continue to agree that for health
and enjoyment, we should aim to eat more carbohydrate foods of
all kinds, including sugars and starches."
British Sugar plc, 2003. Energy for Life
education book. www.britishsugar.co.uk
"All soft drinks are healthy because they
provide the vital fluids our bodies need with some also providing
contributions to the various vitamins and minerals we need every
British Soft Drinks Association, trade body
that lobbies government and provides "scientific evidence",
as above, on its website www.britishsoftdrinks.com
"We are not going to solve this debate
by counting caloriesits about getting kids active. . .
Childhood obesity is a major problem and we're doing something
practical about it."
Cadbury's statement on its Get Active campaign
SECTION 3: CONSUMER
In an international survey conducted for this
views were sought from consumer organisations around the world,
relating to their views on food marketing practices. Responses
showed many areas of common and growing concern, which helped
to inform the writing of this report. A sample of responses is
In India, a consumer group reported
that food advertisements feature in early evening children's viewing
times. and expressed concern about food sponsorship of sport events
and education materials in "Global fast food and soft drinks
companies clearly view schools, especially for fast food, confectionery
and soft drinks; children and teenagers as market.
In Japan, a consumer group reported
that children were also makers. . . They implement a targeted
through TV and sporting events, and identified advertising as
one of the top negative influences on children's diets.
In Argentina, a consumer group identified
food advertising on TV and unhealthy foods available at school
as key negative influence on young children."
In Bangladesh, a consumer reported
use of free toys and cartoon characters to sell food to children.
In Belarus, a consumer group felt
strongly that the full range of marketing techniques, from TV
advertising to free toys and sports sponsorship, persuade Belarusian
children to eat unhealthily.
In South America, consumer organisations
in Guatemala and Costa "Despite the great need, there Rica
said that advertising, free toys, cartoon characters and poor
food and nutrition education in schools all contribute to unhealthy
We also asked consumer groups whether they knew
of systematic interventions that had successfully supported healthier
diets. The most commonly reported successful intervention was
the regulation of breastmilk substitute (formula milk) marketing,
supported by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk
Interventions, common in industrialised and
less-industrialised countries, had been led by international bodies
(WHO and UNICEF), supported by national governments, and promoted
by campaigns run by governmental and non-governmental public-health
Other positive interventions (usually reported
as having more limited success) include promotion of "five
a day"the advice to eat at least five portions of
fruit and vegetables a day. Two examples of successful five-a-day
school-based interventions, based on well-researched principles
of public-health promotion, are shown on page 26.
It was extremely rare for consumer organisations
to report any successful interventions to tackle the marketing
of energy-dense, low-nutrient foods. Cases that were mentioned
tended to be limited to local projects working with small numbers
of children or individual communities. Taxation of snack foods
and soft drinks was reported for Interest (2003) Small taxes on
soft drinks and snack over 30 US states, but has now been withdrawn
in a third of these
A few organisations mentioned "media literacy"
programmes designed to help children become "media savvy"
(see page 28). However, some of these programmes were food industry
funded and of questionable benefit. No systematic evaluation was
reported of the efficacy of such projects in promoting healthy
lifestyles or balanced diets. Indeed, some did not deal with food
or nutrition issues as areas of special concern.
"Global fast food and soft drinks companies
clearly view children and teenagers as market makers . . . They
implement a wide range of activities to target children and teenagers.
Soft drinks brands focus mainly on teenagers, fast food companies
on young children."
Hawkes, C. (2002) Marketing practices of
fast-food and soft drinks multinationals: A review, in Globalization,
diets and noncommunicable diseases. Geneva: WHO.
"Despite the great need, there are too
few programs designed to promote healthier diets and physical
activity. Even the largest nutrition education programs receive
negligible support. For instance, the National Cancer Institute
spends only about $1 million annually on the media components
of its 5-a-day campaign to encourage greater consumption of fruits
National Cancer Institute (1999) cited in Jacobson.
MF & Brownell KD (2000) Small taxes on soft drinks and
snack foods to promote health. American Journal of Public
Health. vol 90, no 6.
As well as consumer and parent groups a wide
range of professional organisations also express concerns about
food advertising to children.
The American Psychological Association
has expressed concern about its members using their psychological
expertise to assist the advertising industry in targeting children.
It has called for regulation of TV food ads aimed at children,
with mandatory equal time for pro-nutrition messages, and a ban
on fast foods and soft drinks in schools, suggesting that schools
seek out contracts with sports-related companies instead. (www.apap.org)
The American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry told the US Federal Trade Commission that
advertising is problematic because preadolescent children look
up to fictional characters (frequently used in marketing) and
tend to do what they ask of them. (US News & World Report.
Vol. 122 June 1997.)
The American Academy of Paediatrics
states that it "believes advertising directed toward children
is inherently deceptive and exploits children under age 8 years
of age". It calculates that American children have viewed
an estimated 360,000 advertisements on television before graduating
from high school, and that, "Advertising food products to
children promotes profit rather than health." (www.aap.org,
Children, Adolescents, and Advertisingpolicy paper RE9504,
The American Public Health Association
has expressed concern that despite public health campaigns promoting
healthier diets, consumption patterns have not changed significantly,
due "at least in part to counterproductive government policies
and industry marketing practices that promote foods of lower health
value, target vulnerable groups such as children and less educated
adults, or otherwise distort disease prevention messages."
(APHA policy report 9213PP. 1992, www.apha.org)
The American Dental Association says
that "Specific brand endorsements and marketing strategies,
often found in exclusive soft drink contracts [in schools], may
influence children's sugary beverage consumption patterns and
increase the risk for decay." (ADA press release, February
In 2002, the Ontario Society of Nutrition
Professionals in Public Health and the Community Nutritionists
Council of British Columbia joined the Centre for Science in the
Public Interest Canada and national health and citizen groups
in calling on the Canadian government (as one of 8 policy recommendations)
to "prohibit advertising junk food to children". (CSPI
Canada press release, November 2002, www.cspinet.org/canada)
The Canadian Paediatrics Society
has stated that "Television viewing makes a substantial contribution
to obesity because prime time commercials promote unhealthy dietary
practices", and "The fat content of advertised products
exceeds the current average Canadian diet and nutritional recommendations."
(Psychosocial Paediatrics Committee, policy paper PP2003-1, 2003.
[In the US] the average high-school graduate
will have spent approximately 15,000 to 18,000 hours in front
of a television set but only about 12,000 hours in school.
Andersen R E, et al. (1998) Relationship
of physical activity and television watching with body weight
and level of fatness among children. JAMA 1998: 279:938-942.959-960.
"The contribution of TV viewing to childhood
obesity is twofold: energy expenditure is decreased through the
sedentary nature of the pastime and energy consumption is increased
by either eating during viewing or responding to advertisements
for high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods aimed at children."
West Virginia Department of Health & Human
Resources (2002) The burden of obesity www.wvdhhr.org/bph/oehp/obesity
"Television advertising of food directed
at young children may help to explain why reduced television viewing
reduces rates of weight gain. Reducing the amount of time that
children are allowed to watch television is one strategy that
offers children opportunities for activity, and it is likely to
alter requests for advertised foods as well."
Dietz W. (2001) Director of Nutrition and Physical
Activity for the US Centres for Disease Control, in an editorial
for the BMJ. 322: 313-314.
In 1978, the US Federal Trade Commission proposed
a ban or severe restrictions on all television advertising to
children arguing that all advertising to young children is inherently
unfair and deceptive. Under pressure from the industry, Congress
instead passed the FTC Improvements Act (1980) that removed
the FTC's authority to restrict television advertising.
Kunkel D: Gantz. W (1993) Assessing compliance
with industry self-regulation of television advertising to children.
Applied Communication Research 148:151.
Around the world there is growing consumer pressure
for food marketing to be controlled, and for food products marketed
at children to be improved. This page shows just some of the campaigns
on this theme that have sprung up in recent years, demonstrating
the groundswell of popular support that could be harnessed by
coordinated action to improve children's diets and health.
To date, over 28,000 people have sent letters
to JK Rowling, author of the internationally best-selling children's
book series Harry Potter asking her to withdraw from an
advertising deal with Coca-Cola, and "Save Harry from
the clutches of Coca-Cola". The campaign Save Harry!
is coordinated by the US Centre for Science in the Public
Campaign website: www.saveharry.com
Campaigning in the US, the NGO Commercial Alert
was instrumental in stopping the ZapMe! corporation tracking children's
internet use at school (see page 17). It also supports a Parents'
Bill of Rights, to enact laws to protect children, including a
Children's Food Labelling Act requiring fast food restaurant
chains to provide nutrition information, and a Commercial-Free
Schools Act to prohibit companies "using the schools
and . . . school laws to bypass parents". www.commercialalert.org
The Australian coalition, Advocacy Network on
Food Advertising to Children, lobbies politicians, teaches children
to be sceptical about marketing, and has called for restrictions
on food advertising to children. It circulates a newsletter to
teachers and health workers advising how to help children deal
with marketing pressures, and to support healthy eating. www.chdf.org.au/foodadstokids/
Fight the Obesity Epidemic was set up in New
Zealand dedicated to preventing the development of obesity in
children. A key action has been to reduce access to inappropriate
foods through school canteens. The group notes, however, that
"By themselves, these changes will be ineffective while
children continue to be manipulated by the powerful forces of
television advertising . . . represent[ing] the food that we would
least like our children to consume, being high in fat, salt and
Work with schools to exclude fatty and sugary
foods from the centeen is coordinated by the NGO Diabetes New
Zealand www.diabetes, org.nz
In the UK, a Parents Jury of nearly 1,500 parents,
established by the Food Commission in 2002, judges children's
foods and marketing aimed at children and gives awards to companies
and products. Prizes have included the "Tooth Rot" award,
the "Pester Power" award and the "Breakfast Battles"
award, for products and marketing practices that undermine children's
healthy eating. Good practice is praised through prizes such as
the "Food Hero" award, the "Honest Food" and
"Friendly Food Facts" awards. The jury is also targeting
the BBC, asking it to consider promoting healthy foods using characters
popular with toddlers, such as the Tweenis and the Teletubbies.
Whilst advertising and sales of fatty and sugary
foods and drinks is still widespread in US schools (see page 15),
several school districts have made international headlines by
ousting these products from school vending machines or canteens.
In New York City, school menus will
soon provide low-fat and low-salt foods. Sugary drinks in vending
machines will be replaced by fruit juice and water. BBC News,
San Francisco plans to ban junk food
and soda in schools starting with the 2003-2004 academic year.
Sacramento and Buffalo City are considering similar moves. Public
Health Advocacy Institute. Legal approaches to the obesity
epidemic, June 2003.
Los Angeles school district, one
of the largest in America with more than 700,000 students, has
banned junk food and soda sales in its schools. San Francisco
Chronicle, January 2003.
In Seattle, a parents' group called
Citizens' Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools lobbied
successfully to ban advertising in the district's schools. It
is now aiming for state-wide legislation in Washing state. International
Herald Tribune, February 2003.
The world's children need greater protection
from the marketing of energy-dense, low-nutrient foods. Experiences
of marketing controls on tobacco and baby-milk show that voluntary
marketing codes are unlikely to be adequate, and that stronger
regulation is required. International standards are needed to
provide a coherent framework to protect and promote children's
health. We therefore urge the World Health Organization to:
1 Work with the WTO, FAO and Codex to ensure
that all bodies are putting children's health protection before
2 Support international controls on food
marketing, including controls on cross-border television, websites
and email marketing.
3 Coordinate a Statement of Responsibility,
backed by the best available evidence and expert opinion, outlining
the rights and responsibilities of food manufacturers and advertisers,
in order that companies marketing food are fully informed of the
effects of their actions.
4 Monitor food-industry marketing practices,
develop suitable targets at global and regional level, and assist
in the development of the strategies needed to meet these targets.
The World Health Organization is also urged
to assist and support national governments to:
1 Commit public resources to promoting the
increased consumption of healthy foods and the reduced consumption
of energy-dense, low-nutrient foods.
2 Involve non-governmental organisations,
the medical community, consumer groups and young people in policy-making.
3 Restrict or ban direct and indirect advertising
and promotion of energy-dense, low-nutrient foods to children.
4 Prohibit marketing of high-energy, low-nutrient
foods and drinks in schools.
5 Pre-vet all TV advertisements for food,
paying particular attention to those screened in the early evening,
and also those which contain health, nutrition or nutrient claims.
6 Re-write existing rules or guidelines on
food promotion to tackle the cumulative effect of marketing practices.
7 Enforce effective sanctions against food
manufacturers and advertisers who contravene the restrictions
on marketing to children.
8 Create incentives for food manufacturers
to reformulate food products to decrease energy density and increase
9 Expand and create publicly funded health
promotion initiatives that include nutrition education and media
"Individual change is more likely to be
facilitated and sustained if the macro-environment and micro-environment
within which choices are made supports options perceived to be
both healthy and rewarding . . . Unless there is an enabling context,
the potential for change will be minimised."
WHO Technical report series 916 (2003) Diet,
nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases.
This report argues the need to control the marketing
of unhealthful foods to children and calls upon the World Health
Organization to assist in this endeavour. However, the members
of IACFO wish to emphasise that there are a great many additional
policy solutions to diet-related disease that could benefit children
and the population as a whole.
Such additional policy measures could include,
for instance, action to:
Impose sales taxes on energy-dense,
low-nutrient foods and drinks;
Remove sales taxes on healthful foods,
eg fruit and vegetables in restaurants;
Remove tax-deductability of advertising
costs for energy-dense low-nutrient foods;
Offer tax benefits for promotion
of healthful foods;
Require quantitative ingredient declarations
on pre-packaged foods
Require calorie and fat labelling
on menus and display boards in restaurants;
Review the "technological need"
for cosmetic colour and flavour additives in energy-dense low-nutrient
Restrict or prohibit health claims
on energy-dense, low-nutrient foods
Promote breastfeeding policy implementation
and prohibit the promotion of breastmilk substitutes;
Promote work-place health legislation
to include nutrition and physical activity criteria;
Improve health worker training in
nutrition and physical activity;
Include nutrition and physical activity
counselling in health-insurance policies;
Strengthen controls on the marketing
of weight-loss products and programmes;
Encourage pre-school, school and
college nutrition and health policies, covering teaching, catering
and physical activity;
Encourage community and municipal
planning authorities to ensure healthful food supplies and safe,
sustainable transport policies; and
Encourage and promote the diversity
of culture and cuisine experienced through healthful foods.
42 Not printed. Back
World Health Organization (2003) World Health Report 2002. Back
WHO Technical report series 916 (2003) Diet, Nutrition and
the Prevenion of Chronic Diseases. Back
WHO Technical report series 916, ibid, section 5.2.4 "Strength
of evidence", table 7, p. 63. Back
Lang. T & Millstone. E (eds) (2002) The Atlas of Food,
Earthscan Books, www.earthscan.co.uk. Back
Analysis based on GDP figures for 2002 from the World Bank
Statistical Indicator (2003). Back
Consumer Protection Act. RSQ. c. p40.1. ss.248, 249 and the Regulations
Respecting the Application of the Consumer Protection Act ss.
UBS Warburg (November 2002) Absolute risk of obesity: Food
and drink companies not so defensive? London: Global Equity
JP Morgan (April 2003) Food manufacturing Obesity: The big
issue. Geneva: European Equity Research. Back
Datamonitor (2002) Childhood Obesity: How obesity is shaping
the US food and beverage markets. Back
Bernard Matthews advert (1996) Grocer magazine. Back
Lang. T & Millstone. E (eds). (2002). The Atlas of Food,
Earthscan Books, www.earthscan.co.uk Back
US General Accounting Office (September 2000) Report to Congressional
Requesters. Public Education: Commercial Activities in Schools. Back
Advertising Information Group notices (Aparil 25, 2003). www.aig.org Back
St Andrew's School, Preston, UK (November 2001) Report on school
fundraising activities. www.standrews.dorset.sch.uk Back
Datamonitor (2002) Market intelligence report. Back
Schwartz. J. (November 2, 2002) Free Computers for Schools:
An Offer Too Good to Last, in the New York Times. Back
Commercial Alert (2000). www.commercialalert.org Back
Githagui. M. (June 3-9, 2003) What Kenyan kids really (don't)
want. East African Financial Standard, citing a Consumer Insight
PC Magazine (April 1, 2003) Cost-conscious Brits threaten
success of 3G. Back
Finnish Newspapers Association (2003) www.sanomalehdet.fi Back
Norwegian media barrometer (200) Half of Norway uses the Internet
every week. www.ssb.no/medie en/arkiv/art-2001-03-26-01-en.html Back
UPOC (February 2002) Snapshot of the US Wireless Market PowerPoint
presentation. www.upoc.com Back
Boseley, S. (January 9, 2003) WHO infiltrated by food industry:
in The Guardian. Back
Gurr, M. (1995) Nutritional and health aspects of sugars, www.ilsi.org Back
Food Commission (April/June 2003) Cadbury's wants children
to eat two million kg of fat-to get fit. Food Magazine 61. Back
Responses cited are from: Bangladesh. NGO capacity building
and advocacy World Leaming for International Development Argentina:
International Baby Food Action Belarus: Belorusskoe
Obstestvo Zastity Potrebitelei Costa Rica: International
Baby Food Action Guatemala: International Baby Food Action
Japan: Japanese Offspring Fund India: Consumer Guidance
Society of India. Back
Jacobson, M. Center for Science in the Public Interest (2003)
Small taxes on soft drinks and snack foods to promote health,
in the American Journal of Public Health, vol 90, no. 6. Back
See IACFO report on Quantitative Ingredient Declarations: www.cspinet.org/reports/codex/QUID.html Back
See IACFO report on Health Claims and Functional Foods: www.cspinet.org/reports/functional