World Health Organization: How to Keep Kids Healthy

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has a new, tough report out: "Set of recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children."

Its policy aim: to reduce the impact on children of marketing of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt.

Here are some of its recommendations (edited):

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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 acids, free sugars, or salt.

    • 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.

The Rudd Center at Yale has just released Fast Food F.A.C.T.S., a thoroughly comprehensive report (PDF) on the marketing of fast food to children and adolescents. [Editor's note: You can read a Food Channel piece about the report, from study co-author Kelly Brownell, here.] The report lavishly illustrates and extensively documents the ways in which fast food companies market to kids, the strategies they use, and the effects of these efforts on kids' diets.

Readers: Add it to your library! FDA and FTC: Get busy!

Addition: Advertising Age reports on the fast food industry's response to the Rudd Center report. All the industry can come up with, says Advertising Age, is a "canned response." Looks like the Rudd Center got it right.


This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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