Proposal to Ban Ads on Junk Food in Children’s Programs

Aimed to tackle obesity and other related health concerns among children. The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has suggested a ban on advertisements promoting junk food during children’s programs.

Citing figures from the National Family Health Survey-5 in 2021 which recorded the percentage of overweight children at 3.4 — up from 2.1 per cent compared to the previous survey. The bureaucrats observed that these commercials should not promote unhealthy junk foods which correlate to obesity in children.

The advertisements are believed to take advantage of children’s gullibility towards the benefits which are inflated to promote the product.  A similar suggestion was also made in 2018. The expert group constituted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to address the troubling foods containing fat, sugar and salt above permissibly healthy limits had then recommended that ads of such food items be prohibited during shows for children.

The government in 2018 had looked at the long term impact on the health and economic aspects of the suggestion. Ultimately the Food and Beverage Alliance of India promised to ‘voluntarily restrict’ food and beverage advertisements concerning children. Major food businesses also gave an assurance that they would refrain from broadcasting ads of high-fat products on children’s channels.

According to the Indian Express, the proposal was brought up during a recent meeting where draft guidelines on “misleading advertisements” were discussed. The meeting, chaired by Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh, was attended by officials from several ministries including Health, Information Broadcasting and Consumer Affairs. The Consumer Affairs Department is expected to release these guidelines, being prepared under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, by the end of March 2022. Interestingly, the first draft of these guidelines was released in 2020 but did not have specific provisions related to junk food advertisements.

The meeting also suggested that the ads should not campaign for carbonated beverages which show celebrities performing stunts. The WCD ministry has also suggested that advertisements should not endorse health supplements like DHA omega 3 fatty acid which claims to support brain development.

Source: The Indian Express

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