Too much sugar and fat in advertised food products

Too greasy, sweet and / or salty … These are qualifications for food products that are best kept away from children’s dishes. However, the latter is ubiquitous according to the Alliance of Consumer Organizations, a Swiss group made up of the Federation of Francophone Consumers (FRC), its German-speaking counterparts (SKS) and Ticino (ACSI). His recently published survey involved extensive market research across four different retail chains, with chilling results. 344 products are listed and identified under the bakery and dairy sectors, and breakfast cereals, beverages and snacks specifically target their toddler-friendly packaging. Their composition and surrounding marketing have been checked to see if they comply with the nutritional profile of the World Health Organization (WHO) which specifies foods that are balanced enough to be promoted for children. The result shows that 94% of the products contain a lot of sugar, salt and / or fat, and therefore do not meet the requirements of the World Health Organization, far from it.

So it turns out that the number of products with balanced nutritional properties that meet the criteria of the World Health Organization is very low, with a score of 20 out of 344 assigned. The organization especially deplores the fact that, as such, these foods should not benefit from marketing that benefits them, especially since There is a “cumulative effect” of these foods throughout the day. According to him, ” If these products displayed a Nutri score on their packaging, it would be 64% on the orange and red (DE) levels for this comparison system and only 13% on the green and light green (AB) levels. Regarding sugar, an average of 33% was found in the components of this food. The authors of the study recall that at the beginning of May, a report by the World Health Organization revealed that 63% of men and 54% of women are overweight in European countries. Among the youngest, the share is 30% for children aged 5-9 years and 25% for children aged 10-19, although some studies actually tend to show that births have an additional negative impact in this area.

“The food industry threatens the health of small consumers”

The survey was conducted around Easter 2022 in four brands in the three language regions of Switzerland. Mystery shoppers were tasked with listing all packages depicting characters, even unknown characters, or animals by browsing through store shelves. ” First note: Between 68 and over 150 products have been made to capture a child’s attention. ”, notes the Coalition of Consumer Organizations. Unsurprisingly, a large number of these children’s products were very sweet, such as chocolate and candy (37%), breakfast cereals (10%), ice cream (9%), cakes and biscuits (8%), which is why From the study you estimate that in ” Purchase a product whose packaging says it is for a child, so the chances are high that it is rich in hidden sugars. However, they remember that the World Health Organization recommends not advertising cereals that contain more than 15% sugar, and that for snacks, the agency considers that they should contain less than 0.1g of salt per 100g.

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However, childhood obesity, in addition to social consequences such as exclusion, presents for the young population an increased risk of developing hypertension, diabetes, myocardial infarction or early joint disorders. Especially since the consumption habits of young adults persist into adulthood, food preferences for certain products are retained for a long time. It has also been shown that the children and adolescents concerned are at risk of retaining their excess weight once they reach adulthood. So the alliance is clear: The agri-food industry is harming the health of younger consumers », the latter is not sufficiently protected against its mass marketing. And this is on several levels, starting with the fact that manufacturers have set their own rules that are supposed to limit advertising directed at children and that it is very difficult to decipher the nutritional values ​​of a combination product. So it is almost impossible for a parent to compare the nutritional quality of many products to choose the most suitable for their child.

Marketing of food targeting children: More concrete measures needed

In addition, ” This information is very important for articles that give the impression that they are favorable to children’s health or good development. “, regrets the Alliance. Building on the strength of this observation, the three organizations that make up it wrote to the four distributors to inform them of the survey results and ask them to improve the nutritional quality of their brand products whose packaging is targeted at children.” Effective reduction of marketing to children is absolutely essential. Sophie Michaud-Guijon, General Secretary of the French Consumers’ Federation, says: Because voluntary commitments clearly do not achieve the goal of making marketing more responsible and products truly relevant. Their other claim generally relates to advertising of foods aimed at children: to allow only products that meet the World Health Organization’s nutritional standards and, conversely, to ban any health or nutritional claim on those who do not meet those standards.

Another demand widely shared by European consumer associations is to make a Nutri-Score mandatory on all products intended for children with packaging considered “tempting”, that is, directed at them by the design of their packaging. “ Without these restrictions, children and teens would still be unprotected against the massive marketing of the food industry. Which not only imposes a heavy burden on them in the future, and puts their physical and mental health at risk, overweight and obesity generally does not resolve itself in adulthood.. Alliance concludes. It should be noted that France will not be outdone by 2020, a study by Santé Publique France has highlighted the fact that more than half of the ads seen by children and teenagers are related to fatty, salty and sweet products. However, the World Health Organization has recommended implementing regulations to limit children’s exposure to advertisements since 2010, and some countries such as Canada or England have already done so. Many associations such as France Assos Santé or CLCV apply to apply in France.

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