Turkish Ministry of Health, in cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO) and Norwegian Directorate of Health, hosted on Monday in the Turkish capital of Ankara the first day sessions of the 8th meeting of the WHO European Network on Reducing Marketing Pressure on Children, where in the next two days 16 WHO European Region member states will discuss ways to diminish the adverse effects of food marketing to children by increasing state involvement and ensuring the implementation of enhanced regulatory measures.
Turkey is honored to participate in and host the meeting for the first time, said Turan Buzgan, Head of National Institute of Public Health from Ministry of Health, during a press conference.
"For the next two days, we will be dealing with and share information on the issue of how to protect our children from becoming addicted to food products that might put their health in jeopardy and cause them to pick up harmful habits," Buzgan said.
The issue has become more prominent in today's world, where families are more child-oriented, said Buzgan.
"In a family where both parents are at work during daytime, they leave their children exposed to TV channels broadcasting cartoons for twenty four hours a day," Buzgan said."And it is these channels that feature commercials of candies, chocolate bars and chips. These are very risky products for the children's future."
Joao Breda from the WHO Regional Office for Europe said childhood obesity was a growing problem in the WHO European Region countries, with one out of three to four children was overweight or obese in many states. which corresponds to a rate of over thirty percent.
"Of course Turkey, like many other countries in the south of the region, is again one country where childhood obesity prevalence is very high," Breda said.
There is no single factor responsible for childhood obesity, he said, "but it has been recognized by researchers worldwide that marketing of unhealthy foods is definitely one of the elements."
A NEW MARKETING LANDSCAPE
The meetings on reducing marketing pressure on children were born out of a decision on the part of WHO European Region member states "to work together, learn from each other and share experiences on how to better take action, regulate and limit the exposure of children to the marketing of foods that have too much salt, too much sugar, too much fat," Breda said.
WHO recently published a 2012-13 update to its report on "marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar to children".
"The report is showing that there is a change in the channels and the way that food companies are actually advertising to children and their families," Breda said. "We eventually have less TV and more Internet; so the marketing of food to children is changing."
FOOD MARKETING AN INTERNATIONAL CHALLANGE
There is a lot of research around the globe showing that there is a lot of marketing that directed towards children and young people, said Knutt-Inge Klepp, representing health directorate of Norway, the country which spearheaded the initiative and is among only six countries where, according to WHO, necessary laws, regulations and other legal measures are fully implemented for controlling food marketing to children. The other countries are Denmark, France, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
"It is seen that the large majority of this advertising and marketing effort is for the food and drink products that WHO and national health authorities advise young people to eat and drink less of, not more of," Klepp said.
Children recognize this advertising, get engaged by it, think it is fun and this changes their knowledge, their attitudes toward food and their eating behavior, he said. "That's why it is such a big and well-recognized challenge internationally now to really try to reduce this marketing pressure of unhealthy food and diet towards children."
Klepp added that according to statistics, the success rate in containing the negative effects of marketing to children increased in states where the government was actively involved.
Turkey approved in the 2011-12 academic year a nationwide ban on the sale of soft drinks, chips and several other packaged snack foods in school canteens. Separately, a new article has been added to the regulation for radio and TV broadcasting practices about the advertising of food and drinks for children.
AALast Mod: 27 Mayıs 2013, 15:57