Highlighted in bright orange are countries that have implemented legislative protections to free children from exposure to commercial communications for foods high in sugar, fat and/or salt (unhealthy foods) on digital media, such as internet and social media. Countries that will be implementing such a ban within the next 1-2 years are highlighted in light orange.

The exposure of children and adolescents to advertising and other commercial communications for unhealthy foods has been authoritatively linked with different outcomes associated with childhood obesity, including more positive attitudes to unhealthy food, greater consumption of unhealthy foods and greater body weight.

The impact of existing policies to reduce children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing, which are primarily focused on television advertising, has been limited. This is further exacerbated by a change in media usage towards digital media, and the increasingly integrated nature of marketing across a number of different media and platforms. Few countries address the digital marketing of unhealthy foods. Those that do, prefer self-regulation by the food and advertising industries. Independent reviews usually find this approach to be severely inadequate.

 

Countries with legal protections from unhealthy food digital marketing

Portugal – HFSS advertising ban at websites, apps and social media profiles with contents intended for under 16-year olds

Certain countries, like Denmark, Ireland and Norway have self-regulatory schemes in place.

In progress

United Kingdom – digital advertising ban to be implemented by the end of 2022

SpainRegulation to come through a royal decree on marketing to children on TV, radio, cinemas, internet, socials media and mobile applications

Policies for healthy living environments

POLICY MAPPING / FOOD ENVIRONMENTS

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Latest update: December 9, 2021

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