The food industry's voluntary efforts alone will not solve child obesity according to the World Health Organization. Taxation and marketing restrictions are required to achieve that goal, it feels.
Too much energy, not enough nutrients
In its newest report, "Ending Child Obesity", which was published last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) urges the food industry to create healthier food and drinks. It feels children nowadays are raised in an environment promoting obesity as they are constantly bombarded with cheap and easily available industrial food items that contain too much energy and not enough nutrients.
Although the report recognizes the food industry is voluntarily making an effort, it also mentions governments should intervene, with taxation and marketing restrictions for example. Adding food value and warning labels on the packaging will not suffice to change consumer behavior. However, a standardized food label system could help educate people about food if all packaged food and drinks were required to use the system.
Protect children against the power of marketing
The organization feels there are plenty of reasons to implement an actual sugar tax. However, not only sodas should face the brunt of fiscal change as other unhealthy food items, rich in fat and sugar, could also be targeted.
The report also emphasized the importance of food education. Schools should prohibit the sale of unhealthy items while every attempt to halt child obesity is doomed to fail if children are not protected against the power of marketing.
Despite all this, the World Health Organization is not in favour of unilaterally imposed measures but seeks a constructive collaboration between governments and the private sector. All member states will discuss the report in May. To be continued...