GLOBAL – In a bold move to shield children from the pernicious effects of aggressive food marketing, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have joined forces to release comprehensive implementation guidance for countries.

This groundbreaking initiative aims to empower nations worldwide to take stronger action and combat the harmful impact of food marketing on children’s health, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for the next generation.

Amid the rising prevalence of childhood obesity and diet-related diseases, the relentless onslaught of unhealthy food marketing has become a critical concern.

Children are continually exposed to persuasive advertisements promoting sugary drinks, processed snacks, and high-calorie foods, leading to poor dietary choices, weight gain, and long-term health consequences.

Recognizing the urgent need for action, WHO and UNICEF are spearheading a global movement to protect children from the clutches of harmful food marketing.

The newly released implementation guidance serves as a roadmap for countries to strengthen their efforts in regulating and curbing the impact of food marketing on children.

The comprehensive plan highlights key areas of action and provides evidence-based recommendations to empower governments and stakeholders in safeguarding children’s health.

Countries are encouraged to adopt and enforce robust legal frameworks to restrict and regulate the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, both online and offline. This includes comprehensive bans on advertising during children’s television programming and the prohibition of targeted marketing on digital platforms.

The guidance stresses the importance of holding food and beverage industries accountable for their marketing practices. It calls for the implementation of clear and enforceable industry self-regulation codes, ensuring responsible advertising and the promotion of healthier food options.

Governments are urged to establish strict nutritional standards for food products targeted at children, limiting the promotion of high-sugar, high-salt, and high-fat products. This includes clear labeling requirements to help parents and children make informed choices.

Recognizing the influence of marketing within school settings, the guidance emphasizes the need for schools to provide healthy food environments and protect students from targeted marketing.

Collaboration between educational institutions, parents, and local communities is crucial to create supportive environments that promote healthy eating habits.

Moreover, the plan underscores the importance of comprehensive public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to empower children, parents, and caregivers with the knowledge and skills needed to make healthier food choices and resist the influence of marketing.

Global call to action

The release of the implementation guidance marks a milestone in global efforts to combat childhood obesity and promote healthier lifestyles.

WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, “Children are our future, and we must do everything in our power to protect them from the harmful effects of unhealthy food marketing. This joint effort between WHO and UNICEF provides countries with the necessary tools to take concrete action and create a healthier environment for our children.”

UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, echoed the sentiment, saying, “The impact of food marketing on children is profound and far-reaching. By implementing the guidance provided, countries can safeguard children’s well-being and ensure they grow up in a supportive environment that promotes healthy choices.”

WHO and UNICEF, alongside national governments and stakeholders, will continue to work together to support countries in adopting and implementing the recommendations. By taking a united stand against harmful food marketing, the world can create a brighter and healthier future for children, where their well-being takes precedence over corporate profit.

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