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No to the advertisement of junk food

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In the framework of its fight against unhealthy food, overweight and children’s obesity, Euroconsumers’ Spanish member -Organización de consumidores y usuarios (OCU)- is leading a campaign for an effective regulation of food advertisement. The national organisation calls for a regulation that impeaches junk food from being advertised to children. 

Advertisement and children’s overweight are correlated

In Spain, the data on childhood overweight and obesity is alarming: four out of ten children are overweight. They are children with a high probability of suffering health problems in the future, such as diabetes or heart disease. Despite not being the main cause of obesity, advertising influences children’s diet and habits.

Good intentions are not enough to fight junk food advertisement

OCU’s campaign was launched after it looked into the effectiveness of the PAOS Code, a Spanish regulation of publicity on food and beverage for children which was implemented in 2005, and strengthened in 2012, to prevent childhood health problems and obesity. 

For 15 years, they have been following the publicity directed to children and broadcasted on TV. Their last research, which was made in collaboration with the National School of Health of the Carlos III Health Institute and published in 2019, concludes that 58 of the advertised products had a D or E rating in the Nutriscore classification.

In other words, more than half of the advertised products were found to be unhealthy. This result is particularly worrying, given that the food industry, the television networks, and the catering and distribution sectors had all signed and agreed upon principles which are enshrined in the PAOS Code.

A campaign designed to regulate unhealthy food advertisement

OCU asks for a mandatory regulation that would regulate advertising directed at children under 15 years old and forbid the advertising of food with a score of D and E in the Nutriscore system. 

OCU calls for a comprehensive regulation 

The regulation should target all types of advertising, in all its formats (television, radio, internet, cinemas, apps, advertising media, event sponsorships, etc.) and at any time, since it was proven that a minor can be exposed to advertising at any moment of the day.

OCU expects the PAOS code to be enforced 

OCU advocates for the requirements of the PAOS Code to become mandatory and not rely on the sole goodwill of its signatories:

  • Real or fictional famous people should be forbidden to promote food.

  • Product placement or other advertising in series or children's programmes should also be forbidden. Such requirement should also be extended to influencers, whose impact on the youngest is important.

  • The use of any logo of health organisation (doctors, nurses, etc.) in the labelling, presentation or advertising of any food directed at minors must be prohibited.

  • The commercialisation of food which has a direct or indirect link to gifts, promotions which are unrelated to the characteristics of the food itself, if directed at children, should be prohibited.

OCU wants the campaign to widely promote healthy habits

With the campaign No to the advertisement of junk food, OCU wants to ensure that junk food cannot be advertised to children because it is rich in saturated fats, trans fatty acids, simple sugars and salt. In addition, it asks for the promotion of healthy habits in the media, in the schools and at home.

A campaign aligned with Euroconsumers’s ambition

In addition to defending children’s health, the campaign “No to junkfood advertising” is embedded  into some of Euroconsumers’ key principles: the protection of consumers, their right to have access to reliable information, and the promotion of a sustainable way of life. 

OCU’s campaign can help achieve sustainable consumption

By ensuring that unhealthy food advertisements are regulated, OCU acts in alignment with Euroconsumers’ spirit: ensuring that all stakeholders are accountable to allow sustainable consumption to be effective. 

Tackling junk food requires the effective collaboration of all stakeholders

Tackling junk food’s negative impact on children is a joint effort that requires an ambitious engagement from consumers, businesses, and our political representatives.

Euroconsumers and its members believe there is room for dialogue and partnership with business players. As long as this is possible, the group and its members privilege cooperation with all fair and responsible stakeholders, business players included, that are equally convinced that collaboration is key to move closer to a more healthy future for all. 

Euroconsumers and its members act to safeguard consumer’s interests

But this can only be achieved if those abide by the rules and their commitments. When this doesn’t happen, Euroconsumers and its members take very seriously their responsibility to push for the setting of ambitious regulation standards. As consumer organisations, Euroconsumers and its members ensure a watchdog role. Where needed and when business players don’t play their part to allow for a harmonious societal life, Euroconsumers and its members will always intervene to ensure the protection of consumer’s interests.