International · Law · International norms

WHO Set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children

Objectives:

To call for global action to reduce the impact of marketing of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, and to facilitate the policy processes and mechanisms to reach this aim

Scope:

In 2007, the World Health Assembly requested the WHO Director-General to develop a set of recommendations to reduce the impact of the marketing of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, “in dialogue with all relevant stakeholders, including private-sector parties, while ensuring avoidance of potential conflict of interest” (Resolution WHA60.23). Unhealthy foods, in this context, are defined as  “foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt” (Resolution WHA60.23).

This set of recommendations was developed in response to that request. It was endorsed in 2010 by the World Health Assembly (Resolution 63.14). It supports the recommendations made in the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health “to develop appropriate multisectoral approaches to deal with the marketing of food to children”, and “to prepare and put in place, as appropriate, and with all relevant stakeholders, a framework and/or mechanisms for promoting the responsible marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children, in order to reduce the impact of foods high in saturated fats, transfatty acids, free sugars, or salt” (page 5).

The twelve recommendations are:

  1. The policy aim should be to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.
  2. Given that the effectiveness of marketing is a function of exposure and power, the overall policy objective should be to reduce both the exposure of children to, and power of, marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.
  3. To achieve the policy aim and objective, Member States should consider different approaches, i.e. stepwise or comprehensive, to reduce marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt, to children.
  4. Governments should set clear definitions for the key components of the policy, thereby allowing for a standard implementation process. The setting of clear definitions would facilitate uniform implementation, irrespective of the implementing body. When setting the key definitions Member States need to identify and address any specific national challenges so as to derive the maximal impact of the policy.
  5. Settings where children gather should be free from all forms of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt. Such settings include, but are not limited to, nurseries, schools, school grounds and pre-school centres, playgrounds, family and child clinics and paediatric services and during any sporting and cultural activities that are held on these premises.
  6. Governments should be the key stakeholders in the development of policy and provide leadership, through a multistakeholder platform, for implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In setting the national policy framework, governments may choose to allocate defined roles to other stakeholders, while protecting the public interest and avoiding conflict of interest.
  7. Considering resources, benefits and burdens of all stakeholders involved, Member States should consider the most effective approach to reduce marketing to children of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty
  8. Member States should cooperate to put in place the means necessary to reduce the impact of crossborder marketing (in-flowing and out-flowing) of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt to children in order to achieve the highest possible impact of any national policy.acids, free sugars, or salt. Any approach selected should be set within a framework
    developed to achieve the policy objective.
  9. The policy framework should specify enforcement mechanisms and establish systems for their implementation. In this respect, the framework should include clear definitions of sanctions and could include a system for reporting complaints.
  10. All policy frameworks should include a monitoring system to ensure compliance with the objectives set out in the national policy, using clearly defined indicators.
  11. The policy frameworks should also include a system to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the policy on the overall aim, using clearly defined indicators.
  12. Member States are encouraged to identify existing information on the extent, nature and effects of food marketing to children in their country. They are also encouraged to support further research in this area, especially research focused on implementation
    and evaluation of policies to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.