Measures to reduce the impact of marketing unhealthy food to children continue to fall short of World Health Organization (WHO) goals, according to a paper published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Current WHO estimates suggest 2.7 billion adults will be medically classified as obese by 2025. Approximately 42 million children younger than 5 are obese.
Influence of Marketing on Childhood Obesity Risk
In 2010, governments across the globe adopted a resolution to restrict the marketing of sugary, salty, and high-fat food to children.
“Children, with substantially increased screen time, are more susceptible than ever to marketing and media tactics,” Eddins said. “This is a serious public health issue linked to childhood obesity. The impact on mental health includes body image issues, eating disorders, bullying, depression, low self-esteem, and suicidal thinking.”
Childhood Habits: Predictors of Adult Health?
Childhood obesity increases the chances of adulthood obesity, in addition to exposing children to health problems such as diabetes and poor cardiovascular health. The report suggests children are biologically programmed to be attracted to unhealthy food. When brands directly market unhealthy food to children, children’s food preferences may be permanently affected.
“In working with adults struggling with disordered eating, I find that childhood patterns of eating influence present disordered eating habits, taste preferences, choices, and behaviors,” Eddins said. “So not only is this issue concerning for children, but it also sets them up to struggle with health issues for their lifespan.”
- Kraak, V. I., Vandevijvere, S., Sacks, G., Brinsden, H., Hawkes, C., Barquera, S., . . . Swinburn, B. A. (2016). Progress achieved in restricting the marketing of high-fat, sugary and salty food and beverage products to children. Bulletin of the World Health Organization,94(7), 540-548. doi:10.2471/blt.15.158667
- Policymakers fall short on global agreement to reduce marketing unhealthy foods to kids. (2016, July 5). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-07/vt-pfs070516.php
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