International · Law · International norms

General comment No. 15 (2013) on the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (art. 24)

Objectives:

The General Comment provides guidance and support to States parties and other duty bearers in respecting, protecting and fulfilling children’s right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health

Scope:

The General Comment takes a rights-based approach to ensure the fulfilment of the child’s right to health under Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For the purposes of FULL, the most relevant part of Article 24 is paragraph (2)(c), which mentions the provision of adequate nutritious food as part of States’ obligations: “To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution” (emphasis added).

In outlining the content of this obligation, the General Comment highlights that States should:

  • ensure that pupils in school have access “to a full meal every day”, and that this “be combined with nutrition and health education, including setting up school gardens and training teachers to improve children’s nutrition and healthy eating habits” (para 46).
  • address “obesity in children” by reducing exposure to foods that are “high in fat, sugar or salt, energy-dense and micronutrient-poor, and drinks containing high levels of caffeine or other potentially harmful substances” (para 47). Moreover, it is recommended that “marketing of these substances – especially when such marketing is focused on children – should be regulated and their availability in schools and other places controlled” (para 47).