Dangerous junk food ads: WHO says more needs to be done to protect children


Dangerous junk food ads: WHO says more needs to be done to protect children

The report says governments aren't doing enough to regulate junk food ads specifically targeting vulnerable children.

With today’s access to different media formats, children are even more open to negative exposure when it comes to adverts. This has resulted in the World Health Organization (WHO) releasing a report emphasizing the plethora of junk food advertisements targeting children especially in Europe through social media, apps and video blogs.

The report warns parents of the sheer volume of adverts of which many are unaware of during their child’s stint on the computer or phone. WHO also criticize governments for not taking more responsibility in curbing targeted ads and not keeping up with trends and the way in which children interact with the internet.

The problem lies with junk food companies who use online marketing through digital analytics and geo-location data meaning they are honing in particularly on vulnerable people like children and influencing their food choices.

“In digital media, an extensive, highly-complex system of advertising delivery has evolved, through which marketers can access much more specific audiences than in the broadcast era. For fast-food brands, geo-location data from mobile devices enable marketers to deliver ads and special offers in real time when users are in the area,” the WHO report said.

While some protection is laid out in the U.S. in the form of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which limits the amount of data marketing agencies can gain from children, there is still a massive problem that needs to be addressed.

“Children’s participation in digital media should not be predicated on receiving digital (high fat, sugar or salt food) advertising, nor should it be predicated on ‘devolving’ consent to parents,” stated WHO in the report.

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