334 paediatricians have appealed to the Minister of Food, Cem Özdemir, and demanded a law that would largely limit the marketing of unhealthy food to children. “Time is of the essence,” reads the appeal presented today at a press conference in Berlin by the professional association of pediatricians (BVKJ), together with the consumer organization foodwatch and the German Alliance for Non-Communicable Diseases (DANK).
+++ The doctors’ appeal in the wording: www.kinderaerzte-gegen-junkfoodwerbung.de +++
Unhealthy diet is one of the main causes of the spread of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents and is driven by “aggressive marketing practices from the junk food industry”, according to the pediatricians. Although the traffic light parties had announced measures against the marketing of junk food in their coalition agreement, Minister Cem Özdemir has still not introduced a law less than a year after the federal election. The appeal therefore calls for a law for effective advertising restrictions to be introduced this year.
dr Thomas Fischbach, chairman of the BVKJ, emphasized: “Whether it is on TV, in the supermarket or via social media influencers directly on the mobile phone: the food industry advertises sugar bombs and greasy snacks on all channels. With their marketing, the manufacturers torpedo the efforts of many parents to to feed their children healthily. With the corona pandemic, the situation has drastically worsened. The number of overweight children has again increased significantly – with fatal health consequences.”
As a central measure, the doctors call for an advertising break for unhealthy food on TV, internet and radio during daytime between 6am and 11pm. In addition, unhealthy products should no longer be allowed to be advertised directly to children, for example with cartoon characters, playful product presentation or toy accessories. The assessment of whether a food may be advertised to children should be based on the World Health Organization (WHO) nutrient profile developed for this purpose.
Luise Molling, campaign manager at consumer organization foodwatch, explained: “With advertising budgets running into millions, the food industry primarily markets unhealthy products because they make the most profit. Young people eat more than twice as much sweets and less than half as much fruit and vegetables as recommended – partly to blame for the food industry’s aggressive marketing of junk food.”
The confectionery industry alone spent one billion euros on advertising in 2021 – more than in any other year before. According to a study by the University of Hamburg, every child between the ages of three and 13 sees an average of 15 advertisements for unhealthy food a day. 92 percent of all advertising seen by children promotes fast food, snacks or sweets.
Barbara Bitzer, spokeswoman for the German Alliance for Non-Communicable Diseases (DANK), an association of 21 scientific and medical specialist associations, associations and research institutions, demanded: “The federal government must finally act and fulfill the promise in the coalition agreement. : Nutrition Minister Cem Özdemir must come with a strong law Protect children fully from advertising of unhealthy products.”
About 15% of children and young people are currently overweight, and six percent are even severely overweight (obese). Initial investigations show that the situation has worsened over the past two years. According to a representative parent survey conducted by the German Obesity Association (DAG) and the Else Kröner-Fresenius Center (EKFZ) for Nutritional Medicine at the Technical University of Munich, every sixth child in Germany has been fatter since the beginning of the corona pandemic, almost half move less than before, about a quarter eat more sweets. Affected children are threatened later in life with diseases such as type 2 diabetes, joint problems, high blood pressure and heart disease. According to OECD data, one in seven deaths in Germany is due to an unhealthy diet. Malnutrition is about as deadly as smoking.
Sources and additional information:
Joint press release foodwatch and BVKJ (professional association of paediatricians).