Give kids a break! What next for EU action to protect children from harmful food marketing?

At the European Parliament, Brussels

28-06-2022

Hosted by the Green political group at the European Parliament and organised by the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA).

With the participation of Maria Ripa (MEP – Greens/EFA, DE), Mimi Tatlow-Golder (Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology & Childhood at The Open University), Amandine Garde (Professor of Law at the University of Liverpool, and EUPHA-LAW Section President), Alexandra Geese (MEP – Greens/EFA, DE), Milan Brglez (MEP – S&D, SI), Deirdre Clune (MEP – EPP, IE), José Manuel Argilés Marín (Attaché on Consumer Affairs, Spanish Permanent Representation to the EU), Olga Zhiteneva & Kathrin Hetz (WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases), and Sarah Wiener (MEP – Greens/EFA, AT). The event was moderated by Tamsin Rose.

You can find the full agenda here

As part of the campaign “Towards a childhood free from unhealth food marketing”, and dissemination of the blueprint Directive for approximation of EU Member State laws on the protection of children from marketing of nutritionally poor food, the European Public Health Alliance gathered together Members of the European Parliament, national representatives, the World Health Organization, and public health lawyers to discuss how children can be protected from marketing of unhealthy food.

Largely, it is accepted that marketing influences humans (certainly showing people food drives consumption) including children. It is common to witness on- and offline sports personalities, influencers, cartoons, and entertainers advertising tasty “not-that-healthy-foods” targeting children. Thus, from a public health perspective, amongst the many possible actions to reduce weight-gain and obesity, regulation of marketing is just one option. The problem, however, was -like many other discussions- not all the parties were present including the food industry and marketing executives; perhaps they were not invited, or maybe they declined. The facts are that children are exposed to large numbers of stimuli daily, they are easy to influence, and susceptible to glossy advertising. Thus, governments as well as the adults in their lives must make choices about what children see to protect their health from the wider obesogenic environment.

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