Select Committee on Health Written Evidence


Supplementary Memorandum by The Food Commission (OB 27A)

  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 evidence.[42] 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 schemes—notably 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.

Kath Dalmeny

Policy Officer, The Food Commission



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.[43] However, as a WHO report[44] 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[45]

  Although referred to as "non-communicable" diseases, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis, dental caries and diabetes are communicated through the cultural environment—from parents to children, from food corporations to consumers, from industrialised country to less-industrialised country.

  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 own—and in particular our children's—patterns 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[46] 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[47]

  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[48]

  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" environment—that 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 nutrients.

  In 2002 and 2003, reports by the investment bank UBS Warburg[49] campaigns is to manipulate children to nag their parents for products. This and the international share analyst JP Morgan[50] 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[51]

  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.[52] Examples include:

  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 cartoon images.

  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).

  "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 UK—the three countries which attract the largest share of international food marketing budgets (40%, 15.3% and 7.1% of the global total, respectively)[53]

  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)[54]. 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 districts—to ensure that particular brands are the only drinks available to children.

Table 2

  "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, number 9322.

  "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[55]

  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, right).

  Cadbury's Sports Equipment for Schools: see p9.

  "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[56]

  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 breakdown.

  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 spending power.

  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[57]

  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[58] 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 in schools[59]

  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[60] 90% of young people in the UK[61] 88% in Finland[62] 90% in Norway[63] and 16.5 million young Americans[64]

  "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 found that:

    —  90% collected children's personal details;

    —  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.

Table 3


  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 possible light.

  The International Life Science Institute ( 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)[65] 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[66] ILSI's members include British Sugar plc, Ensuiko Sugar Refining Co., Tate & Lyle Speciality Sweeteners and the confectioners M&M/Mars Incorporated.

  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 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)[67] 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 of carbohydrate."

  "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.

  "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 day."

  British Soft Drinks Association, trade body that lobbies government and provides "scientific evidence", as above, on its website

  "We are not going to solve this debate by counting calories—its 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 (2003)


  In an international survey conducted for this report[68], 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 shown below:

    —  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 diets.

  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 Substitutes.

  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 organisations.

  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[69]

  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 and vegetables."

  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. (

    —  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." (, Children, Adolescents, and Advertising—policy paper RE9504, 1995.)

    —  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,

    —  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 2002,

    —  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,

    —  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

  "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 Interest.

  Campaign website:

  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".

  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.

  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 sugar."

  Work with schools to exclude fatty and sugary foods from the centeen is coordinated by the NGO Diabetes New Zealand www.diabetes,

  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, June 2003.

    —  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 trade concerns.

    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 nutrient density.

    9  Expand and create publicly funded health promotion initiatives that include nutrition education and media literacy.

  "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[70]

    —  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 foods;

    —  Restrict or prohibit health claims on energy-dense, low-nutrient foods[71]

    —  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

43   World Health Organization (2003) World Health Report 2002. Back

44   WHO Technical report series 916 (2003) Diet, Nutrition and the Prevenion of Chronic Diseases. Back

45   WHO Technical report series 916, ibid, section 5.2.4 "Strength of evidence", table 7, p. 63. Back

46   Lang. T & Millstone. E (eds) (2002) The Atlas of Food, Earthscan Books, Back

47   Analysis based on GDP figures for 2002 from the World Bank Statistical Indicator (2003). Back

48   Consumer Protection Act. RSQ. c. p40.1. ss.248, 249 and the Regulations Respecting the Application of the Consumer Protection Act ss. 87-90. Back

49   UBS Warburg (November 2002) Absolute risk of obesity: Food and drink companies not so defensive? London: Global Equity Research. Back

50   JP Morgan (April 2003) Food manufacturing Obesity: The big issue. Geneva: European Equity Research. Back

51   Datamonitor (2002) Childhood Obesity: How obesity is shaping the US food and beverage markets. Back

52   Bernard Matthews advert (1996) Grocer magazine. Back

53   Lang. T & Millstone. E (eds). (2002). The Atlas of Food, Earthscan Books, Back

54   US General Accounting Office (September 2000) Report to Congressional Requesters. Public Education: Commercial Activities in Schools. Back

55   Advertising Information Group notices (Aparil 25, 2003). Back

56   St Andrew's School, Preston, UK (November 2001) Report on school fundraising activities. Back

57   Datamonitor (2002) Market intelligence report. Back

58   Schwartz. J. (November 2, 2002) Free Computers for Schools: An Offer Too Good to Last, in the New York Times. Back

59   Commercial Alert (2000). Back

60   Githagui. M. (June 3-9, 2003) What Kenyan kids really (don't) want. East African Financial Standard, citing a Consumer Insight survey. Back

61   PC Magazine (April 1, 2003) Cost-conscious Brits threaten success of 3G. Back

62   Finnish Newspapers Association (2003) Back

63   Norwegian media barrometer (200) Half of Norway uses the Internet every week. en/arkiv/art-2001-03-26-01-en.html Back

64   UPOC (February 2002) Snapshot of the US Wireless Market PowerPoint presentation. Back

65   Boseley, S. (January 9, 2003) WHO infiltrated by food industry: in The Guardian. Back

66   Gurr, M. (1995) Nutritional and health aspects of sugars, Back

67   Food Commission (April/June 2003) Cadbury's wants children to eat two million kg of fat-to get fit. Food Magazine 61. Back

68   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

69   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

70   See IACFO report on Quantitative Ingredient Declarations: Back

71   See IACFO report on Health Claims and Functional Foods: foods/ Back

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