The problem

Children’s Food-marketing is extensive, and focuses on fat, sugar or salt-rich products. Evidence shows that television advertising influences children’s food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns. Systematic reviews indicate that television is complemented by a wide range of marketing techniques including sponsorship; advertising in other media; product placement; sales promotion; the use of celebrities, brand mascots or popular characters for children; web sites; packaging; labelling, point-of-purchase displays; e-mail; and text messaging. Multiple messages in multiple channels cumulatively contribute to children’s enormous exposure to unsuitable foods. Thus, combating the effects requires a multisectoral policy response.


WHO’s 9 recommendations on the marketing of foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children call for, for example:

  1. The reduction of the impact and power of saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugar or salt-rich food-marketing on children, reducing their exposure to it ;
  2. The use of different approaches – stepwise or comprehensive, for example – to achieve this goal;
  3. The development of a clear definition, by the governments, that defines the key components of food-marketing policy to allow on a standard implementation process;
  4. The release of settings gathered by children from all forms of marketing of saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, free sugars or salt-rich foods;
  5. Governments to be the key stakeholders in developing policy, and lead multiple stakeholders in implementation, monitoring and evaluation;
  6. Member States to take account of resources, benefits and burdens when considering the most effective approach to take, and to cooperate to reduce the impact of cross-border marketing;
  7. Any policy framework to specify enforcement mechanisms and establish implementation systems;
  8. To include systems, using clearly defined indicators, to monitor policy for compliance with its objectives and to evaluate its effectiveness in achieving its overall aim;
  9. Member States to identify existing information and support research on the food-marketing extent, nature andits effects on children.

What WHO is doing

WHO is reporting on the implementation of codes on the marketing foods and beverages to children in the WHO European Region. More generally, WHO supports Member States by:

  1. Providing technical support by request;
  2. Supporting European action networks to strengthen international cooperation;
  3. Cooperating with civil-society, public and private stakeholders in implementing the recommendations above;
  4. Strengthening cooperation with other intergovernmental organizations and bodies in promoting Member States’ implementation of food-marketing policies;
  5. Monitoring policies on the children’s food-marketing.

What can the private sector do?

Responsible industries can market foods and drinks in a way that
  • Adhere to marketing consistent practices with the policy aim and objective set out in the WHO recommendations
  • Implement the same marketing practices globally to ensure equity for children everywhere;
  • Reduce the impact of cross-border marketing by both respecting national initiatives and following the same practices in all countries